Latin America & Caribbean

Chile 'medicinal' pot-smoking mum denied access to baby

Marijuana - file photo Image copyright AP
Image caption Currently, Chileans are allowed to consume marijuana in private, but it is illegal to sell or grow the drug.

A Chilean mother says a hospital is restricting her access to her newborn baby because she said she smoked marijuana.

Sindy Melany Ortiz said she smoked pot for medicinal reasons to alleviate pain in one of her arms.

She says she is not being allowed to breast-feed her daughter and can only see her for two hours a day.

Hospital officials in the southern city of Talcahuano said they were following protocol and the baby was at risk.

"They have violated my rights as a mother," said Ms Ortiz, "I use this drug only for the pain in my arms, it was recommended by a medical professional to me and I am absolutely not a drug consumer."

"They started to ask me if I smoked or took anything and I told them. When my daughter was born they said she would stay a little with me but I couldn't breastfeed her because I had consumed marijuana which is bad for the baby."

The hospital said it had alerted a local court that tests had found substances that could harm the child.

The court has ordered that the baby remain in the Las Higueras hospital until it takes a decision on Thursday.

In July Chile's Congress approved by a wide margin a bill that seeks to decriminalise personal use and cultivation of marijuana.

The law, if passed, currently allows the possession of up to 10g of cannabis and the growing of up to six plants.

It is being seen as a way to stop the persecution of medicinal users and to allow them to access a medicine they can grow in their gardens.

Santiago, Chile's capital, was the site of Latin America's first medical marijuana farm earlier this year.

Chile's marijuana bill will move to the full Chamber of Deputies before passing to the Senate, a legislative process that could take years.

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