Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jul 2012
Source: Chico News & Review, The (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
Author: Meredith J. Graham


Medical Marijuana Is at the Center of Daisy Bram's Fight to Keep Her Kids

The past year has been quite a whirlwind for Daisy Bram. The 
31-year-old mother of two has had her home raided; she and her 
husband, Jayme Walsh, were arrested; and their children were ripped 
from her arms.

The couple celebrated a small victory earlier this month in their 
battle against Butte County's Children's Services Division, but their 
fight is far from over.

In a March 2012 cover story, the CN&R chronicled Bram and Walsh's 
fight with CSD for custody of their children. That story explained 
how the couple's trouble began with a raid on their medical-marijuana 
garden by the Butte County Sheriff's Office in September 2011. It 
also showed that Bram's case-and indeed other, 
non-medical-marijuana-related CSD cases-had attracted the attention 
of local cannabis and parental-rights activists as well as local and 
state media. Bram points to the prominent, persistent protests by her 
supporters and media attention by the CN&R, the Sacramento Bee and 
the San Jose Mercury News as contributing to her case being dropped by CSD.

"With all the attention and media that we drew every time we went to 
court-I think they kind of wanted off it," said Bram, who was 
reunited with her children in February.

"On July 12, we had a status hearing [with CSD]," she continued. 
"They finally said, 'We find there's no reason to keep the kids away 
from their parents.'"

That day was a major milestone for Bram and Walsh. It marked the end 
of at least part of the nightmare they've lived through these past 
nine months. But the couple are acutely aware of the impact their 
story has had on others.

"I think in a way it's a groundbreaking case, because there are a lot 
of people in the medical-marijuana community who have been put in the 
same position as Daisy," said Bram's L.A. attorney, Michael 
Levinsohn, by phone recently. "She succeeded where 99 percent of the 
lawyers around there [Butte County] don't succeed. She got her kids 
back, and she's allowed to use medical cannabis."

One of the biggest issues to come out of Bram's story is whether it 
is safe to consume cannabis while breastfeeding. CSD said it was not 
and even got a court order barring Bram from breastfeeding her infant 
and toddler until urine tests came back negative for THC.

"Lots of moms smoke pot and breastfeed. Maybe nobody will admit to 
it, but it's a lot more common than people are aware of," Bram said. 
"It's really hard to get anyone to say it's bad because there's no 
science to back it up."

She's right. Internet searches for "breastfeeding" and "marijuana" 
provide little to no actual data-mostly message boards and sites that 
are either clearly pro-or anti-marijuana. In searching about 
breastfeeding, however, there is plenty of research that shows 
breastfeeding is significantly healthier for infants than formula. 
(During the five months Bram and Walsh's boys, Zeus and Thor, were in 
foster care, they were breastfed infrequently, getting their 
nutrients through formula instead.)

The breastfeeding issue has wider implications for Bram, however. In 
February, the Butte County District Attorney's Office refiled 
previously dropped charges of child abuse and endangerment against 
Bram linked at least in part to her breastfeeding with THC in her 
system. (It can take from several weeks to months after consumption 
for THC to leave the body entirely.) The DA's Office is also alleging 
that the presence of marijuana in the couple's home endangered their 
children, because gardens invite violent robberies and raw marijuana 
can be eaten by children.

"The prosecution brought in an expert witness [during the preliminary 
hearing], a medical doctor who said she had come across several cases 
where children had eaten raw marijuana and gotten sick," Levinsohn 
explained. "The concern is that if you have raw marijuana around the 
house, it could be picked up. Children will put things in their mouths."

DA Mike Ramsey said there was more than just marijuana involved in 
the concern over child endangerment.

"They were also manufacturing hash, which includes the use of 
solvents that are dangerous to children," Ramsey said. "This was a 
commercial operation with marijuana trimmings all over the house and 
accessible to the toddler who could, as they are apt to do, share 
with the baby sibling."

The preliminary hearing on the criminal charges started at the end of 
June and is scheduled to resume Aug. 1. Levinsohn is prepared to 
request that all testimony by the doctor be stricken because she was 
unable to produce evidence-in the form of medical records-to back up 
her claims that she'd treated children who'd become ill from eating 
raw marijuana.

Bram and Walsh, who maintain their garden was for personal use only, 
are hoping that the case will be dismissed, but they're not holding 
their breath. Bram, who is pregnant with the couple's third child and 
due in September, is poised to continue the fight.

"I've already been separated from one newborn-I'm not going to do it 
again," she said.
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