Attorneys for a Comanche County woman are asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to stop prosecutors in the state from criminally charging women who use medical marijuana during their pregnancies.
An application filed at the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Thursday argues state law grants medical marijuana users immunity from arrest or prosecution.
The legal challenge involves the case of Brittany Gunsolus, 27, who used marijuana edibles and topical creams during her pregnancy with a recommendation from her doctor, according to the filing. Gunsolus gave birth to a healthy baby in Lawton in October 2020 who tested positive for marijuana. Child welfare workers closed an investigation after finding Gunsolus’ home was safe and loving. But the Comanche County District Attorney still charged Gunsolus with felony child neglect in May 2021.
Attorneys for Gunsolus argue she can’t be prosecuted for using an illegal drug during her pregnancy because medical marijuana is the same as any other legal medication used at the direction of a doctor under Oklahoma law.
At a court hearing in Comanche County in August, a prosecutor argued Gunsolus broke the law because her unborn child did not have its own, separate state license to use medical marijuana.
Medical experts advise that women should not use marijuana while pregnant or breastfeeding, because of the potential to pass chemicals to their babies that can affect brain development.
The Frontier reached out to Comanche County District Attorney Kyle Cabelka’s office for comment on Thursday and is awaiting a response.
The nonprofit Pregnancy Justice, which advocates for the civil rights of pregnant people, is providing legal support for Gunsolus’ court case.
The Frontier first reported in 2022 that Oklahoma has seen a flurry of criminal cases involving women who used marijuana during their pregnancies since the state voted to legalize medical use in 2018. The Frontier has found dozens of women charged with child neglect for using marijuana during pregnancy — 17 women were prosecuted even though they had state medical marijauna licenses.
Child neglect carries a maximum sentence of life in prison in Oklahoma, but women have received probation in all of the cases The Frontier has found.