In this episode, Karly interviews Heather Thompson of Elephant Circle, a birth justice organization in Colorado. Heather is a molecular and cellular biologist, clinical researcher, birthworker and queer parent.  She has worked on issues related to reproductive health for more than 25 years, advocating for equity, access and autonomy in childbirth. Currently she is the Deputy Director of Elephant Circle, a birth justice organization where she gets to combine her background in increasing access to physiologic birth with science and community organizing. She is passionate about supporting the family unit and helping families navigate their own journey, particularly as it relates to maternity care, birth and legal marijuana in Colorado. In recent years, Heather has also increased the time she spends creating conversation with white people about whiteness and racism.  

Here’s a summary of our conversation: 

  • Heather introduces herself, and talks about herself, her colleague Indra Lusero and what they do at Elephant Circle.
  • Heather clarifies that she is not an activist for cannabis in pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Marijuana is actually a racially derogatory term, Heather prefers to use the word cannabis
  • Because some people are using cannabis in pregnancy and lactation, Heather aims for “harm reduction” and arming people with the best legal and scientific information possible
  • the harms and risks of cannabis use are very different conversations
  • cannabis in pregnancy has been studied for a very long time
  • Heather discusses the different findings and difficulty in interpreting extracting helpful information from the studies
  • Social beliefs about cannabis use in pregnancy in our dominant culture
  • The “crack baby” and their cognitive outcomes
  • the legal aspects of using cannabis during pregnancy even when its legal in your state
  • the role child protective services can play in your life if you are using cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding
  • What every parent should know about the laws around cannabis in their state
  • Medical providers are mandatory reporters of drug use among pregnant women
  • How long after you use cannabis you can test positive
  • Discrimination associated with cannabis use

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