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Arizona: Officials Will No Longer Pursue Most Cases Involving Prenatal Cannabis Exposure

Updated: Dec 25, 2023




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Phoenix, AZ: State officials will no longer take punitive actions against people who consume medical cannabis during their pregnancies.


The decision, announced by the Arizona Department of Child Safety last week, comes nearly one year after the state Supreme Court declined to reverse a lower court decision determining that the physician-authorized use of medical cannabis by a pregnant woman does not legally constitute neglect under state law.


Following the court’s decision, lawyers for the Child Safety Agency acknowledged that they do not possess the legal authority to investigate cases involving prenatal cannabis exposure unless there are explicit allegations of child neglect.


The new DCS policy takes effect in January.


Studies have consistently shown that Black and Hispanic pregnant people and their newborns are disproportionately ordered to undergo drug testing during the labor and delivery process. In certain states, like Alabama and Oklahoma, those who consume cannabis during pregnancy frequently face criminal prosecution, even in instances where a doctor authorized their use.


Data assessing the relationship between in-utero cannabis exposure and various neonatal outcomes, such as birth weight, is inconsistent. However, longitudinal data indicates that cannabis exposure is rarely independently linked with adverse neurodevelopmental consequences, finding, “Although there is a theoretical potential for cannabis to interfere with neurodevelopment, human data drawn from four prospective cohorts have not identified any long-term or long lasting meaningful differences between children exposed in utero to cannabis and those not.”

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