Women, Motherhood and Substance Use: emerging research and on the ground evidence

Zara Snapp, Instituto RIA:  Good morning. We know it’s early for many of us and afternoon for others. Welcome to the side event on mother women, motherhood and substance use. We´re very pleased to have an excellent panel here, and this will be available on social media after. This, since we know that many people would be unable to connect because of the time.We have interpretation. So at the bottom you will be able to click on the map, and from there you can choose whether you want to have interpretation off, or whether you want English or Spanish.

The final 2 presentations will be in Spanish. So if you need an interpretation for those, you can just click on that, or you can listen from now on in Spanish. So feel free to use that. So that you can understand everything that’s going on as well, and you can turn it on and off as you need it. We also have Jorge here who’s helping with technical support. Also Javier, who is doing the interpretation in Spanish.

So thank you Jorge and Javier for helping us on this side event. I just wanted to give a very brief introduction, and we’ll be briefers today. We decided to do this side event because it’s part of a series of side events that ACCIÓN TÉNICA SOCIAL (ATS) and INSTITUTO RIA have been doing over the last 5 years at the CND, beginning with topics such as drug checking, cocaine regulation, peacebuilding and social justice. Last year was about adult drug use, the responsible adult drug use, and this year we are really approaching the topics around women and mothering and substance use.

And so we choose to bring these topics to a space that often does not hear either about lived experience, or what’s going on the ground, which is the commission on narcotic drugs. We also seek to bring topics that can help to break the taboo.

And so that is the goal with the conversation that we’re going have today and we look forward to having this conversation, and that it can be a dialogue, although we will obviously be having presentations from individuals. Around this topic of well, and just being a mother, maybe, that this has become closer to home. Now with 2 children. I left one sleeping in bed, so we’ll see how she does now.

It feels like on an international level. We take tiny steps. But what we really need is a very large paradigm shift, that would guarantee how we take away a punitive, stigmatizing and criminalizing approach to women, mothers, people who are currently pregnant, or gestating and substance, use any substance use. There’s obviously a lot more openness to substances that are legal, you know. Your doctor will even tell you you can have a glass of wine. But we don’t talk about anything else, and so our goal here is to have a conversation about what do we know?What do we not know? and how do we begin to propose policy solutions around that? Whether at an international level or at a local or national level.

You know, there’s tiny things you know where the WHO. Came out and said: Cbd does not have been shown to have no negative impacts, but more research is needed.

These are the tiny steps I’m talking about whereas we see these horrifying moments where children are taken away from their parents or from their mothers for these issues, and that’s what we want to get at today.

So first, we’re gonna have Lynn Paltrow who’s the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), which is one of the main organizations, and really, although it’s a national organization, there are very few other organizations in the world that are doing this work around pregnancy. And really, how do we support pregnant people during this time? And the relationship with substance use.

We also have Dinah Ortiz who is a harm reductionist and part of the leadership team of the Urban Survivors Union, and somebody who we’ve seen speak and are very inspired by I mean, the thing is we also can make these side events that we just invite people who we want to hear speak, and we want to hear their voices in these spaces.

We have Vanessa Morris who’s the coordinator of Échela Cabeza, which provides information and drug checking in Colombia, and she’s the author of numerous publications, including “Women and Parties”, and they recently undertook a survey on women and drug use in Colombia, and she’ll be sharing some of that data and obviously Échela Cabeza is a project of Acción Técnica Social  who will very pleased to co-host this with 3.

Then we’ll hear from Nuria Calzada, who’s a member of Mujeres Cannábicas in Spain, who’s also a State level Coordinator of Energy Control and a board member of LEAP, Europe and Instituto RIA, and obviously also an advisor of Acción Técnica Social.

So we have a panel of very incredible inspiring women. So I am very excited to have you all here. and I’m just gonna pass the proverbial to Lynn Paltrow

Lynn Paltrow, National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW):

Thank you so much for having me, i’m honored to be here, and in my short time I just want to start by pointing out that this side event this opportunity takes place in a world in which the female prison population continues to rise dramatically from 2000 to 2017 the overall prison population increased by 20% but the number of women and girls by 50%. And that is so, despite the Bangkok rules in 2010.

That’s said standards designed to limit unnecessary imprisonment with particular attention to addressing the specific needs of women.And this isn’t because women have become more engaging and more become more like criminals, increasing criminality but political choices, particularly harsh drug policies that continue around the world.

Drug policies and sentencing failed to take into account the vast majority of imprisoned women who are mothers, and the particular circumstances that led them to use drugs and be engaged in drug trade.

I’m gonna focus particularly on the United States where drug control provides cover for attacks on the human rights of women and all pregnant people and I want to acknowledge that people of all genders can become pregnant, and so i’ll be using the terms pregnant women and pregnant people interchangeably. My organization did a study of arrests that would not have happened but for pregnancy; and we look particularly first between 1973 and 2,005, and identified 413 cases, in which but for pregnancy, the woman would not have been arrested or subjected to some other kind of significant state control. We found that the primary targets for testing, arresting and separating families are low-income women. 59% a huge, disproportionate number of women were women of color, and again, hugely disproportionate 52% were black.

How do these arrests come about frighteningly? Many of them come about as a result of disclosures of private medical information by state authorities up to State authorities by health care workers and helping professional social workers and others. Which gives a beginning idea of the loss of human rights, including confidentiality, medical decision making and undermines the trust between patients and their providers.

What we also learned from this research is that 84% of the cases that we were able to identify involved allegations of pregnancy in either drug or alcohol use. What we are also in the process of looking at documents or arrests, since 2005. And significantly we’ve discovered that there have been 1,300 arrests.So almost 3 times as many arrests in a half as many years. And again it appears that the vast majority of these arrests are justified by drug control policies justified by stigma relating to pregnancy and drug use.

So what are some examples of that in all Oklahoma? I should just explain that as a matter of biology, 15 to 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriages and still births.That is just biology. But if there is a pregnancy loss and a positive drug test, the scientifically unfounded assumption is that the person struggles to cause the pregnancy loss in the State of Oklahoma in the United States. Brittany Pula, a 19 year old, experienced a miscarriage between 15 and 17 weeks.It was blamed on her use of methamphetamine.She was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced more than 4 years in jail. This is so, despite the fact that the medical community, increasingly in Oklahoma across the country, is consistently said that the use of criminal and other punitive responses is inappropriate, and they and despite the fact that we know that methamphetamine does not cause miscarriages, or still births, that it can’t doesn’t even have a pathway to do so.

I like to point out that if any of the criminalized drugs, worldwide, were good at causing pregnancy loss many more women, especially those in countries that that abortion would be using them. But they do not cause pregnancy loss, even though they become, the excuse to arrest as murderers people who experience miscarriages and still births.

In Oklahoma those arrests also are being made now for women who test positive for marijuana, a drug that again has nothing to do with pregnancy losses and does not know studies have found a causal connection between marijuana and any harmful impact. Not that the use of criminal law in response to pregnancy would ever be justified, but when it’s justified by junk science and medical misinformation, it is all the more reason to challenge those arrests and the underlying misinformation.

In Alabama there have been more than 500 of us the majority involved allegations of pregnancy and marijuana use, including marijuana use by women like Katie derritz, who has epilepsy. The medication for epilepsy is known to cause birth defects. She switched to marijuana because it was effective in controlling her severe epilepsy, and yet she was then arrested and charged with the crime for doing what was actually safer for her future child, than using the prescription medications.

The stigma associated with drug use the stigma that’s supposed to be challenged, as a result of UNGASS and other discussions addressing the harms of punitive responses to drugs. The stigma continues to be so great that this woman in Alabama, who had a prescription and appropriate valid prescription for pain medication she had a sphere back injury, she tried not to use her opioid-based pain, medication, she had to at the near the very end of her pregnancy, and they and she was arrested for possession. Illegal possession of a drug with the claim being made that she somehow hoodwinked her doctor into continuing her pain medication by not disclosing her pregnancy. That wasn’t True, and it is not fraud to be pregnant, and use valid medications that you need to control excruciating pain.

In Mississippi and numerous other states people have been arrested as child abusers for testing positive for marijuana.In this case they were charged with the crime for having marijuana in her system. No evidence of harm. Just in her system. And I I often bring my urine sample to me where I speak and say in the United States this year, and cup, which can tell, you perhaps, if it’s accurate whether or not i’ve used a particular drug within a particular time, cannot tell you if I am dependent on that drug, If I am a good parent or a bad parent, if I make my children my priority, or anything about the health of my children. And yet a year and cup, a urine test in the United States, and perhaps around the world, has been used as a basis for determining parenting ability for separating families and for arresting people who have just gone through the risk to their own lives and health of being pregnant and giving birth.

The movement for family power in the United States has come out with this report not only is it a drug war and punitive drug control policies play out in the criminal law system, in it through law enforcement, but also through child welfare the family separation system in the United States, where, again, a positive drug test can determine whether or not you are allowed to parent and can keep the child you love with you.

Many families have been separated and subjected to intrusive, traumatizing, dangerous separations that you will be hearing about more from people who have experienced it.

In one of our cases in Arizona the state of Arizona, Lindsey R, let me go back. and say we’ve made progress, some progress in the United States, particularly around criminalization of marijuana the majority of States have legalized medical marijuana. And there’s been decarceration generally, but not for pregnant women and for and around medical marijuana for pregnant women.So it is pregnancy that becomes the mechanism for reinforcing punitive, irrational drug laws.

In Lindsey ours case. She had a number of serious health problems.She was the beneficiary of medical marijuana. She was a certified medical marijuana user. When she gave birth in Arizona they applied a law that says a single positive drug test, no evidence of harm needed is civil child abuse, and she found herself put on the and that she could use to support her family.

She used the marijuana effectively to address a condition during pregnancy called hyperemesis gravidarum, which is extreme severe morning sickness. what’s called morning sickness through the entire pregnancy that can result in its death and neurological harm to the developing baby. Her marijuana use, in fact, was protective both of herself and her baby, and yet she has to fight charges of being labeled for pet forever, or for 25 years at least, as the job Abuse.

These cases all occur in spite of numerous medical groups saying that all of these punitive approaches are counterproductive, and in spite of the evidence that none of the drugs show a causal connection to any harm with this new study, a systematic review of prenatal exposure to Cannabis in particular, does not find any conclusions regarding cognitive impairments.

We asked that the CND follow the recommendations that were made for august 2016, and as Sarah said, things move slowly. This Women’s declaration insists and we insist on ending the unjust injustice perpetuated by global drug prohibition which should be replaced by public health approaches. Otherwise we see what’s happening in the United States in which not only does the drug war continue, but it becomes the front for depriving people of fundamental human rights around pregnancy, pregnancy and all of its outcomes whether it’s giving birth to a healthy baby experiencing a pregnancy loss are having abortion.

Now, thank you for this opportunity. I’m now going to turn this over to my friend and colleague Dinah Ortiz

Dinah Ortiz, Urban Survivors Union:

Thank you, Lynn. Thank you so much. I learned something new every time I hear you speak, and the fact is that you come with the facts, and you come you know, with the science and what I have learned throughout my years of representing parents, is that the majority of times that their children are removed it’s due to drug use, even if there is there are, no there’s no abuse or neglect tied to their parenting, they still will remove a child due the drug use, if the parent is not ready to attend a program which we know all programs are basically 12 step, you know, kind of like abstinence-based programs.And if the parent is not ready they are like when you’re choosing the drug over the parent over the your child.

And so that was frustrating to me and I always you know, found myself, like, you know, arguing with the worker from the child regulation system, because it’s like, you know, this is not a one size, fit ball, you know, and if they are dropping their child off at the babysitter, or if they are having, you know, getting respite for their child. If they are doing what they need to do when their child is healthy, and their child is not abused. Why can’t they do what they need to do until they’re ready to stop right? Because that’s really what people want everybody you know wants people to stop using drugs. And I assume that it was the same way during prohibition with alcohol, you had to stop using alcohol but look where we’re at right now.

And I just don’t think that we should be expecting people to stop using drugs. If that is something that they choose to do and they’re not harming anyone, they’re not, you know, harming their children then I think that they should be able to do it right. Like we were talking earlier about, you know, people drinking alcohol. People, you know, even doctors say you know you can have a glass of wine. They don’t say you can have, you know, a bad taste in heroin, you can do a line of cocaine even though that doesn’t do any damage to the child. But the minute that day hear of heroin, cocaine, crack or anything that is the illicit “hardcore drugs”, and I put quotes around it, because those are not the worst things for a fetus it’s actually nicotine and alcohol that are the worst for fetus, and those are legal.

The minute that they hear about the hardcore drugs then it’s well, we got to call ACS, or you know the child regulation system. We have to report this, you’re doing damage to your child. If you’re not ready to stop, if you’re not ready to go into a program, then you need to then we’re going to put your child in foster care. Even though all these psychologists that came out to defend, you know, like not you know that when everything was going on at the border, with the children being taken from their parents, all of the psychologists said that it does more harm to remove a child from their parent, regardless of the situation then to keep them at home,and nurture and help the family.

They’re not saying that the same things about the child regulation system and the people that are removing children right here in our own backyards, and it applies equally whether it be for a day, whether it be for 6 months, if you remove that child from the only environment that they’ve known, and they are comfortable and they feel safe, there you are doing more harm than good, and Then you’re dragging the parent out through the extent you know through the extent of the case basically you, the parent has to show up to court whatever I mean 9 o’clock. They always Tell them to show up at court at 9 o’clock in the morning. They Won’t call the case so one o’clock in the afternoon is sometimes, you know people don’t have money to go for transportation they don’t have money to eat so they’re in court all day long with no food, you know they don’t have a babysitter, so they have to bring their kids, or if not their kids are in foster care and it may be a day where they miss a visit because they have to be in court, like so many things come into play, when we have affluent parents that are using drugs in the comfort of their own home, and their children are not being removed. And so what I am for is dismantling these systems right? The system, this the structure systems of oppression that are basically saying, we need to teach you how to parent your child.

I parented my children for years during my active drug use, even through my chaotic drug use. I parented them for years, and my kids will tell you.My mom did the best that she could even while she was using drugs, and most of the time we didn’t even know like that’s what my kids will say. And yeah, I’m not saying that I was the perfect parent during that time but I also didn’t have support right if you have a support network and you have people like they say it takes a village to raise a child. If you have a support network that you can reach out to, you it can go so much better and we can’t stop thinking about it like we don’t ask diabeticshat are you going to stop? You know, taking insulin we don’t ask people with cancer when are you going to stop taking your cancer medication. We only do that to people who use drugs. When are you going to stop using your known medication-assisted treatment? Or when are you gonna stop using drugs? and It’s just its stigma surrounding, you know, drug use. And it basically is around black and brown people and indigenous folks. It does not pertain to affluent people, you know white people blog about using drugs, and you don’t see the child regulation system getting involved in their lives.

My case lasted 7 years, and it was because I kept going back and forth like they would tell they would produce 3 warrants. They will tell me you have to. We have 3 warrants. You have to produce your kids and I would fly from New York to Florida and take my kids to Florida, and then they would have to transfer the case to Florida. I’m like you’re not putting my kids in foster care, you know, like I have a family. I will leave them with my family, but you are not putting them in foster care, so they can be more harmful in foster care, which is all about money.It’s all about. well let’s get these you know kids meant that. let’s get them diagnosed with something so that way, you know they can be in therapeutic homes and then there’s more money involved in that like it’s just a money train in it and it really is like, it is a foster care to prison to homelessness, and I don’t want to say pipeline and I don’t want to because I don’t want to insult my native American friends, but like a pathway, basically, it is the pathway from just foster care to prison, to homelessness.

There’s no in-between you’ve never heard of a real successful story of a child that spent most of their years. their childhood years in foster care, in fact, i’ve represented clients that were young, that had children that were still in foster care, and their child because they were in foster care. Their child would in turn be removed from them because they were in foster care. So there’s no good ending to this. What I propose is that we dismantle because there’s no retraining, there is no way we can make the system better, no let’s just dismantle this system that we do not need. Let’s stop the surveillance on poor people and let’s do it another way.

Thank you so much, and I will go ahead and pass it along to my fellow colleague that is going to speak next.

Zara: Thank you so much Dinah. Vanessa for now,

Vanessa Morris, Échele Cabeza: Good morning. Well, I would like to tell you a bit about our experience in this topic of women and drugs. Last year, we launched our first survey to know which were the dynamics of consumption in party contexts and other aspects related to a gender focus. Well the survey was answered by 3526 women of which 3058 live in Colombia and 468 in other countries. We had responses from Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Peru but most of the people living in Colombia. The women who responded live in Bogotá, followed by Medellín and followed by Cali. Approximately half of the women surveyed who have a level of professional education, 21% secondary education and 14% with technician and 3% specialization. Regarding gender identity, 95% of women identified as cis gender, followed by 0.78 non-binary women and 0.43 trans women and only 0.29% indicated that they were gender fluid. From the house and the family, 57% of the women surveyed indicated living with their family or with their partner, 15% lives alone, and 9% with roomies. As for biological children, 7.22% of respondents said they have biological children, the majority of women who responded to the survey, belong to the age ranging from 18 (24.5%) and 25 to 30 years (with 34%)

Regarding the consumption of substances, we asked about consumption throughout their lives, considering legal and illegal in legal substances. Alcohol appears with a prevalence of 98%, followed by tobacco with 78% followed with a vaporizer Expo electric cigarettes 62% sedatives 27% inhalants 7% and antidepressants 0.7% among illegal substances cannabis has the highest prevalence with 96% followed by MDMA with a 77%, followed by LSD, then popper,  “TUSI” (which is a very Colombian preparation at the moment that has had a boom recently, as a preparation of MDMA, caffeine, ketamine and a dye pink paint), then cocaine, then mushrooms and ketamine among other substances

On the consumption trends, in the last 3 months, cannabis has a higher prevalence with 82%, followed by MDMA with 51%, followed in LSD of 34%, TUSI again 23% and cocaine 16%. Here in this aspect that we did is to ask if there are risk and harm reduction practices that women implemented in their consumption. Most women mix substances (69%). There are some multinational risks in terms of the dynamics of use and consumption of women users. Many of them say that they do not analyze because they do not know the service, but what we could see in our interventions instead, is that women delegate this function a lot to their partners and their friends. There is still a lot of fear, there is a lot of taboo to be able to analyze their own substance.

Continuing also with the consumption of substances, we also wanted to know about the main motivations of women who used drugs, and we have 1) to feel pleasure, let’s say, as the highest percentage 68.90%, then leisure 68.38% t,hen appears to potentiate experiences with emotions, accounting for 8%. Also, socialization as 48%, introspection with 43%, sexual practices are 33%, functionality 30 percent, among others. Because the main reasons why women consume psychoactive substances are related to pleasure and with the other also the majority corresponding to functions in their daily lives and a significant percentage in relation to sexual practices, and this catches our attention

In face of the consumption of substances in quarantine, t 43% said that he increased his consumption, a 33 said that decreased, 23% said that remained the same. Regarding the way in which substance use had helped them cope with the pandemic. 62% said that TUSI. 37% said no to the question if they had felt abstinence during the pandemic. 48% said yes and 33% said that sometimes I felt abstinence. Most of the findings mentioned were contrasted with other investigative exercises such as our report on drugs and quarantine, where we can also see that some of the drugs consumed, then increased in terms of substances such as cannabis, LSD, among others but decreased in substances with socializing use, such as Ecstasy, cocaine, MDMA or meth.

Well, during the quarantine 71% said to consume alcohol, followed by the consumption of tobacco with 44%, vaporizers an electronic cigarettes 21% and sedatives 10% compared to the illegal we see prevalence of cannabis consumption in LSD, mdma, popper, tusi and the mushrooms

In terms of coexistence at home, 82% of women indicated that their consumption has not affected the coexistence at their home, while 17% consider that yes. 82% of women establish that there is no one at home who has problems with the consumption of substances, while 17 considers that ssion people that have problematic consumption 83% of women responded that their consumption did not affect coexistence in let’s say for the moment where they live in the south residence as such while 17% said yes. In the face of the question of carrying of substances by request, we see that 60% said to carry the drugs by request of their partners or friends. This puts us at much more risk with the public force, because in case the police have a hostile and a violent attitude with substance users, now this would increase with women. 38% of women said they had been victims of gender-based violence by the police with verbal harassment as 37% and physical harassment 17% being the main reasons. In the aspect of motherhood and consumption of psychoactive substances, we inquired about whether respondents had consumed substances during her pregnancy. Here, only 286 women that responded to have biological children told us that they had consumed during pregnancy substances such as tobacco, alcohol and illegal substances such as cannabis, cocaine. Also, we see that all people who consumed some type of substance during pregnancy consuming substances during pregnancy but during breastfeeding did not consume illegal and legal substances either.

When we talked about the stigmas around consumption and their pregnancy, they told us that they felt a great stigma and stigmatization of consumption during pregnancy mainly from the family of their partners, which is manifested in attacks and psychological aggressions by the family,  apart from psychological attacks by their partner. Additionally 8.12% of the respondents have lost custody of their children by consumption.

Another aspect that we took into account within the survey was the issue of paid sexual activities. 100 women who did not have sexual activity mentioned practicing sexual activity in the back, of which 70% is dedicated to webcam work, the other 60% sale of erotic content.

On the other hand, in the face of gender-based violence, 60% of women said they had been victims of gender-based violence while under the influence of some substance, with verbal harassment being the most common with 35% followed by physical harassment with 34%, psychological violence at 15% and rape at 13% and verbal violence at 13%. Here we highlight that it is the problem of gender-based violence to which women are exposed in party spaces and use. 47% said they have been victims of verbal violence in bars and parties, and the 38% having received physical harassment and a 9% verbal violence. There are some gender protocols that are being implemented in the establishments, but we need to revise them carefully. In this same sense many of the users said that despite having seen another woman in this vulnerability, they did not help her out of fear. The vast majority of 59% equally indifference is also a relevant factor because there is still a lot of shame on how to act in these situations

Finally, and as a conclusions, the first one we can see is that there is a gap in the information on the use of psychoactive substances in women in Latin America. From a gender perspective, women have historically been denied the right to pleasure both in the sexual sphere and in the use of psychoactive substances. So this also makes us discriminate a little more as users. On the other hand, because although there are many reports and research or statistical studies on the consequences of the war on drugs, including the consequence for women in issues of incarceration or the work of peasants there is not much information about women who use drugs in nightlife settings or in other related contexts.

With this we must continue to build and deepen strategies to reduce risks and harms especially in the use of substances and sexual practices, we must continue to insist on the need to open spaces for effective participation in women who use drugs both in the design and implementation and evaluation of drug policies.

We must also continue to generate scientific evidence against the consumption of psychoactive substances, their interaction effects, in other aspects of women taking into account birth controll pills, hormonal treatments, this kind of things. And we call on feminist civil society organizations to include within their agendas issues of psychoactive substances consumption, the creation of alliances with organizations that work on the reduction of risks and damages, and finally, we call on the entertainment industry, both bars and music festivals, all the promoters and party organizers, to include gender protocols in their establishments. Thank you very much, and now I give the microphone to my colleague Nuria

Nuria Calzada, Mujeres Cannábicas: thank you very much for the invitation to participate in this table so necessary and an issue that concerns us all and that is present in all countries of the world. Today I speak on behalf of Cannabis Women, which is an initiative that was born in March 2016 as the first project of the network of anti-prohibitionist women in Spain and obviously because the issue of motherhood understood not only in the gestation process but also the period of breastfeeding and parenting has been one of the main concerns since the beginning of our collective

What is happening in Spain? we have a situation in which the competences, the issues of health, are transferred to the communities to the different autonomous communities of Spain, so that each religion acts according to its criteria and also its legislation and it even happens that at the regional level there is no protocol or any procedure of action that is consensual and that is unique so the situation is that each hospital does Health center acts according to its own protocol. In any case, there are points of Union that are common, I believe, to all the people who are here, to all countries, and to all health centers around the world, that are therefore the assumption that the consumption of drugs that any substance is harmful to the baby and that total abstinence must be achieved.

When we talk about consumption of legal substances, the facts of the damages are well described in the scientific literature but there is no room for maneuver when we are talking about unregulated substances, despite the fact that the results are contradictory inconclusive and are very limited, the samples are not representative and there are many factors of confusion, and it also happens that corruption is not only in the police or at the government level, but in science there is also enough corruption. Another point in common is that it is usually considered that the consumption of any illegal drug in any form is harmful to the fetus. There are no distinctions between substances or between forms of use or that is to say everything is in the same bag and the protocol is activated before any suspicion or when testing positive in any consumption.

And I think I would also emphasize that there is some concern and an upward trend to detect these cases of consumption early but always from a punitive point of view. The region of Catalonia, that’s where I am, is governed by a law of 2010 and speaks of the rights and opportunities in childhood and adolescence, and that consider prenatal abuse as a situation of helplessness, as “the lack of care of one’s own conscious or unconscious body or the ingestion of drugs with psychotropic substances by woman during the gestation process. This is considered prenatal abuse and therefore is a situation of helplessness in the face of Catalan legislation.

What are the repercussions of the legal time for the mother? I can also speak from my personal experience because I had to face this system because the detection of consumption activates the protocol of a risky pregnancy and there are a series of urine controls both during pregnancy and at the time of birth urine samples are taken from the baby.

The results are these controls during pregnancy because obviously they give rise to greater control, a greater surveillance, always from a punitive approach and also has certain repercussions both during breastfeeding because the decision can be made to prohibit breastfeeding the baby and also then that the follow-up by social services that is always a hassle.

Other types of impacts are more at the individual level. These interventions can have an impact and transform the unique and unrepeatable and wonderful experience that is pregnancy and also that of childbirth into a real nightmare and the weight of stigma and the criminalization of women falls with all the institutional weight from both health professionals and services. We also often find a condescending treatment because of the type you are not qualified to be a mother or you are a bad mother, a bad influence for your children. This gives a very clear result that is silence. Silence for its price, because if that consumption is explicit, you run the risk of disproportionate actions and although it is not politically correct the recommendation that any pregnant woman would make is in case of consumption never inform your doctor and if he asks you, lie. This results in invisibility and if it is not visible it does not exist and if it does not exist you can not intervene. Therefore from the professionals and health professionals miss the opportunity to make an adequate accompaniment in order to know more about the issue.

There is a lot of discussion now a days about the issue of pregnancy. I am the issue of gestation but I think the impact is also very great during parenting, and in that sense I would like to specify two very recent examples. I am a mother of 2 children, a 13-year-old child in full adolescence, and another 10-year-old child. My children have grown up seeing the cannabis plant both here at home and at friends’ houses but they also grow up seeing live in a society with a prevailing discourse and paradigm and have also grown up watching the news, where the police enter the houses where there are cannabis plants. Last week, in one of these routine visits in the rural areas of the police, from time to time, came the police in this routine visit and the scared me. They took away my children because they thought that we were going to go to detention. I wonder what impact this has had on my children, in the construction of the conception they have of their parents, as criminals. My children used to ask if we were criminals, and if police will take us and arrest us, and if my 13-year-old son will be arrested. He has started high school, and has received his first drug prevention workshop and of course when he asked him what the summary, basically it is that drugs are bad, and that is the image in society in general, that people who use drugs are criminals, are sick, are bad, are not educated, are irresponsible. But beyond personal experiences, as you have also commented, in the case of parenting there is also a devastating impact on courts. For example in trials between biological parents and parents who want to take custody from the biological parents, use this argument of drugs to keep their children away and get the custody, or more common between father and mother who are discussing the custody of the children at home in case of separation. And all this only based on suspicion or complaints, without evidence, as you have said before, regardless of abuse or neglect or helplessness, and all the alarms are activated and this is devastating because it ends up separating families.

The presumption that using drugs makes you a bad person makes a criminal, and that it is a danger to have children in your charge, and this something that never or rarely arises in the case of alcohol, as Lynn said. A positive in urine does not say anything about the type of consumption.

In short, I consider that in this world that is seen and that criminalizes and stigmatizes people who use drugs but especially mothers for it and women for it to mothers for the triple not the triple stigma of being a user being a woman and above all mother then in this world in which we live it is to deal with the education of my children so that they have a discourse a different narrative of drugs when all the inputs they are receiving that is to say they are opposed to it with what they are receiving in the family nucleus because even in the most open family nucleus the grandparents, the uncles, this perspective is also present. I do not know what can be the impact on the perception that children have of the parents. I would like to finish with recommendations that we would make in Cannabis women regarding pregnancy. There is a huge need of promoting research, but rigorous research, and overcoming the limitations before you commented on the participation of groups and women users and in this case our group has participated in a study on maternity and cannabis in agreement with the Department of Health of the Generalitat of Catalonia, a study led by the hospital clinic of Barcelona and we have been able to contribute both women volunteers to the study and participate in the design and analysis of results

I believe that the training of healthcare is fundamental to improve the approach from the health approach, at a global level in the issue of drugs but specifically in the issue that concerns us today, which is in the issue of women and an approach that is less threatening and that overcomes all the barrier of stigma, which is the biggest barrier, in order to establish this open relationship with health professionals. Of course, it is also necessary to review the protocols of prevention of detection and follow-up at the medical and social level, so that the accompaniment is prioritized the reduction of risks and so that we do not prioritize surveillance and control from a punitive point of view.

From my personal experience what I can contribute is that knowledge makes us free. Although I tested positive and that activated the protocols, my knowledge fortunately made me free and when I could discuss openly with the gynecologist, about these things of not taking away breastfeeding and to have a segment of social services, I was clearly trying to explain that an occasional consumption of cannabis during pregnancy wasn’t harmful, I invited him to take the studies and in my case fortunately had a more or less happy ending but it is not the case of many girls, who are held in hospitals and are well targeted by the institutions. Regarding motherhood, I believe that the change is, as you said Zara at the beginning of this talk, about making a paradigm shift, a global change of narrative, of discourses. We have problematized something that was not a problem, that was something normal. The consumption of substances that has been present throughout history, with different uses, and that we have problematized now. It seems that it is a problem. When we talk about normalizing consumption in the face of institutions. it results in fears of “promoting consumption”. I believe that we must normalize consumption when it is not a problematic thing, and that we must also reivindicate the issue of my body my choice. Both for this, and if I want or not to have a baby and what substances I want to take throughout my life regardless of whether I am a mother or not. Thank you very much

ZARA:

Thank you Nuria, Vanessa, Dinah and Lynn

I know that there are people that have to go on to other side events that they might have and so I’m going to conclude and then if we want to stay for a few minutes just to kind of reintegrate this conversation I think it’s I think it would be good

I’m staying with several eat your phrases that each of you have have  said you know that in many of these cases they’re choosing the parent word we’re we’re choosing the rights of one over another instead of really thinking about also how the intersection of these rights are very much together now as as parents as as women we are in if you would like nucleus nucleus nucleus  that that then keep us kind of connected to children but then to our communities and that by having the government intervene in this you’re really breaking with that connection that we have as as communities

The rule of pleasure and human rights which Vanessa spoke about most women that’s why we choose to use substances and that it’s a fully legitimate use and that it’s very that we don’t study it enough and then I’m stuck with this thing These are not our friends and that’s sad the health system then is not here to support women as they go through this change in their life or really at any point if you’ve been using any sort of substances and so that really the message to women is don’t talk to your doctor about what’s going on with your life because that person cannot be trusted and that’s something that we really need to think about in as we as we think about policy design around this

And then you know how do we we come up against but society is holding us to with raising children when you have tried in your home today you have a different perspective and to break those paradigms or when you’ve spent your life educating your children in a certain way but then the system around us takes that away and or  or confronts that with myths and misinformation and junk science azlin  said and so how do we really begin to use this as a way to how do we confront this and and I I mean for us it’s about opening this conversation and obviously promoting that there would be more research that there would be more studies around this topic but I still I think we have a long way to go and I think that the fact that we can have this conversation here also demonstrates a certain level of privilege that we are able to even have this conversation when we know that so many of our companion us are not even able to talk about this within their families or within their communities or they feel tremendous guilt which when I was speaking with Lynn yesterday you know just guilt is kind of something you carry as a woman and as a mother and so how do we let that go and allow ourselves to really live fully as women as mothers and as people who who use drugs

So with I’m just gonna close it I’m gonna say that that’s if anyone needs to leave there welcome to and on the other hand I’m going to open microphones so if anyone wants to respond to what was said if anyone wants to just have a small conversation please feel free currently we don’t we aren’t consigned by zoo this would be like if we were getting a coffee she woke up

Zara:

I know that there are people that have to go on to other side events that they might have and so I’m going to conclude and then if we want to stay for a few minutes just to kind of reintegrate this conversation I think it’s I think it would be good

I’m staying with several of your phrases that each of you have have said you know that in many of these cases they’re choosing the parent word we’re we’re choosing the rights of one over another instead of really thinking about also how the intersection of these rights are very much together now as as parents as as women we are in if you would like nucleus nucleus that that that then keep us kind of connected to children but then to our communities and that by having the government intervene in this you’re really breaking with that connection that we have as as communities

The rule of pleasure and human rights which Vanessa spoke about most women that’s why we choose to use substances and that it’s a fully legitimate use and that it’s very that we don’t study it enough and then I’m stuck with this thing These are not our friends and that’s sad the health system then is not here to support women as they go through this change in their life or really at any point if you’ve been using any sort of substances and so that really the message to women is don’t talk to your doctor about what’s going on with your life because that person cannot be trusted and that’s something that we really need to think about in in as we as we think about policy design around this

And then you know how do we we come up against but society is holding us to with raising children when you have tried in your home today you have a different perspective and to break those paradigms or when you’ve spent your life educating your children in a certain way but then the system around us takes that away and or or confronts that with myths and misinformation and junk science azlin said and so how do we really begin to use this as a way to how do we confront this and and I I mean for us it’s about opening this conversation and obviously promoting that there would be more research that there would be more studies around this topic but I still I think we have a long way to go and I think that the fact that we can have this conversation here also demonstrates a certain level of privilege that we are able to even have this conversation when we know that so many of our companion us are not even able to talk about this within their families or within their communities or they feel tremendous guilt which when I was speaking with Lynn yesterday you know just guilt is kind of something you carry as a woman and as a mother and so how do we let that go and allow ourselves to really live fully as women as mothers and as people who who use drugs

So with I’m just gonna close it I’m gonna say that that’s if anyone needs to leave there welcome to and on the other hand I’m going to open microphones so if anyone wants to respond to what was said if anyone wants to just have a small conversation please feel free currently we don’t we aren’t consigned by zoo this would be like if we were getting a coffee she woke up.

It’s just research versus reality because we’re hearing like these the the law, and what is like pushed on us versus them.

The reality of the that we’re all okay I don’t know if anyone wants to say anything, or if not, we can.

Dinah:

Yeah, I mean i’d love to just contribute i’m so anti punitive measures right?

I think that society is based on punishing people, especially, you know, black and brown people, and envision as folks, and the way that they do it is by targeting families.

Excuse me, and specifically through the child regulation system.

So they figure. Well, you know they use drugs they’re black or They’re brown, you know.

They’re Latinx they use drugs they’re people of color.

So what we’re gonna do is we’re going to target them, and then we’ll remove their kids, and then, you know, like it. just it’s a trick. it’s a ripple effect.

From there. And so for me, I just really really feel like, you know, we put so much emphasis, and we we kind of use like whatever they say. What I learned when you know going to court with our clients are, you know, parents and stuff? Was that the judge would put so much emphasis and so much trust in what these workers were saying about our parents. Meanwhile we were in the rooms, and we were listening to them. They would not listen to our parents. they would not listen to the families. they would not see the pain that the family that the mother that the father, you know, felt the minute that they felt like their children were at risk of being removed and for them. They’re like cops for families you know so they I just feel like they just. They don’t need to exist right and I and I said that before I am an abolitionist, they do not need to exist. I think that the mass incarceration movement needs to start connecting the dots with the foster care system and the child regulation system, so that we could work together and see that the majority of have mother of women that go to jail and go to prison is due to drug use or taking the rap for their, you know, spouse or their partner for drugs.

Right and they’re the ones that lose out because at the end of the day. They’re the main main caretakers who get you know who get wrapped up in this, and that their children are the ones that are at risk. So so we can avoid all of this. We need to just really just get, you know. Get rid of these systems. Get rid of this child regulation system, and start really investing in our mothers in our families, and we can’t separate the mother and the child. You just can’t and that’s What the the they do that’s what these systems do. They try to separate them, so that you don’t see the like you, feel like the child can do without their mother, but they cannot.

And so we need to start really showing them that you cannot separate them.

They are intertwined and if you’re gonna do for one you have to do for the other, and you start you have to start thinking of them as a family unit.

Zara: Definitely, definitely. I don’t know if anyone else I mean I think it at the half hour we can close.

Lynn:

I just wanted to point out that I i’m a nerd I believe in research. I think more information is great, but I just want to say a couple of things that we know, and we don’t need more research on.

We know that punishment doesn’t work we know that criminalization has not stopped change. Drug use the human need to have experiences that are pleasurable, or that relief pain, or that you know, deal with the issues we deal with.

It’s just a human thing, and no amount of criminalization, and no more research is needed. We also know that public health approaches harm. Reduction approaches work better than anything else. Year after year at the International Harm Reduction Conferences, somebody else has produced the latest study, comparing abstinence only with harm, reduction, compassionate, respectful approaches.

It is always those that work far better than anything punitive and We also don’t know me. More research to know that none of the criminalized drugs cause costs any unique, or more significant harms than for example, a lifetime of poverty, lack of nutrition, and the the stress that comes, for example, in the United States from constant racism. We don’t need any more research on any of those things, and we can address issues of drug control based on those understandings right now today.

Zara:

Thank you, Lynn. Nuria, Do you want to say something?

No? okay.

Thank you so much for being here this morning for waking up very early, for being part of the site event. Hopefully, next year we can all be together, and we can keep having this conversation, because it is clearly an urgent conversation. We know that every day children are being separated from their parents. For these reasons we know that it’s completely unnecessary and that it actively harms all parties involved. And we also know that women oftentimes are utilized to protect other people and other interests, and that our bodies are often not our own. And so I hope that we can you say we don’t need more research on a lot of things. But hopefully, more of the research that already exists can filter up to the right people, so that changes can be made. Thank you very much, all of you, for being part of this.Thank you for to the to the audience, and I hope you have a very Good Friday and a very good weekend.

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