On Tuesday this week, the New York City Council passed two cannabis-related resolutions as part of a package of marijuana laws that the progressive-minded caucus of the chamber wants to see enacted.
One of those resolutions calls on the Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) to adopt a new policy to the effect that finding someone using or in possession of marijuana shouldn’t in itself mean that a child is in danger and should be removed from that person.
Child custody issues constitute one of the most serious yet overlooked consequences of cannabis consumption, even in places where the drug has been legalized for either recreational or medical use.
The City Council’s resolution details how there is a racial disparity in the way marijuana possession arrests are done, and also points out that the ACS doesn’t immediately conclude that a child is at risk of harm just because a parent or caregiver takes alcohol. This same principle should apply in the case of marijuana consumption, the council argues.
The second measure is addressed to the state legislature. It requests the lawmakers to enact legislation mandating the Department of Health in New York State to formulate hospital drugs testing guidelines or regulations for pregnant women and those giving birth. Those regulations should include provisions on informing hospital patients about their rights if matters of drug testing and drug use are to be discussed.
The current practice is that as soon as a pregnant woman tests positive for any drug, including cannabis, the hospital reports this to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. On the basis of that report, ACS launches an investigation into the matter.
The NYC Council notes in its resolution that while it isn’t clear how hospitals enforce their drug testing policies, people of color and those from impoverished communities seem to be particularly targeted.
Additionally, the resolution notes that there is still limited research regarding the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy. However, even that limited research doesn’t show that cannabis use is on its own a risk factor for serious neonatal problems.
The lack of clarity on the drug testing policies of hospitals means that pregnant women often volunteer information about their drug use not knowing that such information could result in child welfare issues.
Having a clear drug testing policy would encourage women to be free about disclosing their drug use habits since they will not have any fear that child welfare cases will be instituted simply because those women tested positive for marijuana, the councilors reason.
These resolutions show how keen the city council is to see marijuana reform implemented. Earlier in April, they also passed a resolution to put an end to pre-employment marijuana testing. This takes effect next year.
It remains to be seen whether the state legislature will act upon the well-intentioned resolution on hospital drug testing, but pundits believe that the entire cannabis industry, including industry players like ChineseInvestors.com Inc. (OTCQB: CIIX) and Chemistree Technology Inc. (CSE: CHM) (OTCQB: CHMJF), will be rooting for a positive outcome so that women stop being unfairly victimized for using cannabis.
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