Radical Justice, Cannabis and Birth Advocacy: A Doula's Perspective

April 13, 2018

 

 

There are many different types of doulas in the world. The world in all its diverse glory demands it. When I initially started my doula business, I didn’t know what type of doula I would become. It wasn’t till after the birth of my second child that I began having ideas of a cannabis lifestyle brand specifically curated around doulaism, fertility and wellness.

 

Doula’s are uncharacteristically quiet when it comes to cannabis use by their clients. We don’t have meetings discussing the latest findings on cannabis use in pregnancy like we do breech birth or rebozo techniques. The network of doulas who support cannabis and provide information to clients on consumption is small. So small and so underground that not even our clients can find our care without extensive sleuthing. I hope to spark interest in networking our very much needed services in the new cannabis industry that is flourishing in this country.

 

Doulas Who Dose
 

Birth workers have a hard time being taken seriously by certain professionals and as an act of self preservation, many are not open with their cannabis use with clients. It’s understandable that cannabis use BY doulas can be seen as a sticky situation. However, I find it no more problematic than medical professionals having mid week happy hours, joking about needing a glass or bottle of wine after a difficult shift etc. We have established and normalized that medical professionals drink during their off hours (and many, stupidly while on the clock). That substance normalization is based on a lack of social stigma surrounding alcohol use specifically, not necessarily a moral high ground being found in alcohol versus cannabis consumption. I think it’s safe to say that support personnel and medical professionals are expected to be responsible...that being no different for doulas who dose..

As a doula and cannabis user, my use when under contract is starkly different than when I am off duty.  It may involve tinctures, high CBD/CBN flower and usually involves no edibles because of the effects lingering into my work flow.  When I’m out of contract, cannabis plays a major part in my  process to analyze  my role in events I experience. Any person working in a medical field, whether they are medical professionals and support persons experience traumas on the job. Processing that trauma in a mindful meditation practice aided by cannabis is a wonderful habit I have perfected over the past decade.

 

Stigma in a Stigmatized Community


As an activist, I would be doing my communities a disservice if I did not address the racial and socioeconomic issues influencing birth work and our clients in the United States. Thousands of primarily black and brown men and women suffer the consequences of a racially biased system that punishes cannabis use disproportionately among non white populations. For doulas of color like myself, the undertaking of dismantling cannabis stigma which is deeply rooted in racial discrimination intersects with a responsibility to honor Black traditional birth work. As you can imagine, this is not a small undertaking, but one CannaDoula is committed to taking on. 

 

I'd like for you to watch Radical Doula Miriam Zoila Perez explain how racism and discrimination harms the prenatal outcomes of people and how Black traditional birth work support models like Jennie Joseph's "The JJ Way" combat this systemic inequality in pregnancy and labor. 

 

While this video discusses the specific effect on pregnant women, the birth workers in the trenches of this are also celebrated. It is this resilience to maintain traditional midwifery and doula practice at the heart of The JJ Way and it's success and is truly inspirational.
 

From this discussion we can conclude that discrimination and stigma play a hugely negative role in prenatal outcomes no matter who you are but especially if you are Black or Brown. For pregnant cannabis consumers, their 9 months of pregnancy guilt, fear, and  social judgement. By providing the general public with information and simultaneously creating diverse representation within cannabis communities, CannaDoula attempts to dismantle misinformation while combating stigmas within stigmatized spaces.

What Is a CannaDoula?

 

I created CannaDoula to support all people who want to consume cannabis mindfully and with purpose in all phases of their lives. As a full spectrum doula, I was already providing people support through out the full-spectrum of reproductive healthcare. Introducing cannabis advocacy was a natural progression in that process. Cannabis use in the United States is socially becoming more acceptable though no federal legislation has reflected these attitudes. Parents who use cannabis are directly targeted for their use and have little support when they are reported to state departments and family services. 

Justice for individuals facing legal ramifications from marijuana use comes from a common understanding of and normalization of cannabis and endocannabinoid systems. This starts with an elementary understanding of the scientific findings of modern cannabis research which only just began 25 years ago with the discovery of the endocannabinoid system!

 

It is believed that our natural endocanabinoid systems thrive when we holistically introduce cannabis therapy techniques to our daily routines. I believe people (and animals) have deficiencies in these endocannabinoid systems and that If this is the case, this is a deficiency we are passing down to our children when we abstain from cannabis medicine in pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

 

CannaDoula aims to reestablish cannabis use in pregnancy and postpartum as a socially acceptable medicine by providing information that contradicts the abstinence only stance on use during the birthing year. By sharing scientific and anecdotal information on the subject, we can expand our knowledge of what cannabis does to both the pregnant person and baby's endocannabinoid systems. 

 

The future of endocannabinoid research depends on the support of people and their informed choice of medical cannabis . My mission is to manifest an environment where we can research endocannabinoid therapy in the birthing year, expanding new research into cannabis therapy and fertility. 


 

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