Pot use for epilepsy gets Texas mom in trouble

Bradley Blackburn and WFAA , WFAA 5:13 AM. CST January 20, 2017

BURLESON, Texas — A Texas mother says her children were taken from her and she faces child endangerment charges for using marijuana while she was breastfeeding.

“It’s probably one of the worst things I’ve ever been through,” said Erica Tucker.

Tucker is a proud mother of five. She’s used to a busy, noisy home, but for several months last year, her house was silent and her kids gone. She says they were taken away from her because she was using marijuana.

Tucker said she was diagnosed with epilepsy. She suffered her first seizure a few years ago, and doctors recommended medicine. But she said she didn’t have health insurance and it was too expensive.

“The prescription was $325 for a one month prescription,” she recalled. “Even my wealthy friends could not afford that.”

Looking for an alternative, she said she started researching medical marijuana. She turned to cannabis to self-medicate.

“We still lived a normal, functioning life, even though I was using marijuana to deal with my disease,” she said.

But last March, after suffering a bad seizure, she went to Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Burleson. She believes a nurse found out she was breastfeeding while using cannabis and reported her to Child Protective Services.

“CPS showed up on my door knocking,” Tucker said. “They immediately removed them that night.”

Child Protective Services would not comment on an individual case, and neither would Texas Health Huguley.

In a statement, the hospital said, “We comply with all state and federal reporting requirements. Specific patient information is confidential and cannot be discussed.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics expects to release a new topic on the report of marijuana use while breastfeeding later this year, but current policy warns about the drug’s ability to interfere with care of a child and the potential for toxicity via breastfeeding.

The 2012 AAP Breastfeeding policy states use of cannabis raises concerns about “the infant’s long-term neurobehavioral development.”

“Marijuana has a very high affinity for breastmilk,” said Dallas pediatrician Dr. Julie Linderman.

Linderman has reviewed recent research, and while she says more information is needed, she believes it is not worth the risk, especially when formulas are available.

“If you feel there’s a chance you’re endangering your child,” she said, “then don’t breastfeed.”

Erica Tucker doesn’t believe cannabis hurt her son via her breastmilk. But today, she’s not using marijuana. She has insurance now, and takes medicine for her seizures.

She and her husband Greg got the kids back last year after they went through required CPS programs and proved they were drug free.

“And I had to do a mental exam to makes sure I was stable enough to care for the kids,” she said.

While CPS is no longer involved with the family, Erica and Greg Tucker still both face child endangerment charges in Johnson County.

They’re asking for help to pay legal bills to fight the charges.

“We’ve almost lost our home. We’ve almost lost our car,” she said.

She has a Change.org petition, and she wants to share her story so that it doesn’t happen to someone else.

“It’s not like we were bad people,” she said. “We were just living a normal life. Trying to live.”

Copyright 2016 WFAA

Originally published here: http://www.khou.com/news/local/texas/pot-use-for-epilepsy-gets-mom-in-trouble/388625442