Court: Mom OK to use medical cannabis while pregnant; ‘hugely consequential,’ says Jonathan Udell, Rose Law Group cannabis department co-chair

By Mary Jo Pitzl | Arizona Republic

An Arizona woman who used medicinal cannabis to combat morning sickness during her pregnancy will have her name removed from the state’s child-abuse registry.

The order from the Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday means Lindsay Ridgell will no longer be listed on the Confidential Registry, which limited her job prospects since she was placed on it in 2019. It also could have broader implications, as medicinal cannabis use is less likely to be treated legally as a form of child neglect.

“It’s so magnificent!” Ridgell’s attorney, Julie Gunnigle, said of the single-page order from the high court. “My client has been suffering for four years, fighting the uncertainty of this case.”

The Supreme Court declined to accept an appeal from the state Department of Child Safety, which defended its decision to list Ridgell on the registry after her newborn in February 2019 tested positive for cannabis. The department was on the losing side of a unanimous decision from the Arizona Court of Appeals last April. The three-judge panel found Ridgell’s cannabis use was lawful and did not amount to child neglect.

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“This ruling is hugely consequential for families and supporters of medical freedom in Arizona. It finally confirms that the Medical Marijuana Act means what it says: ‘Taking marijuana as (a doctor authorizes) is the same as taking any other medication ‘under the direction of a physician.’ With this holding, the Department of Child Safety should completely curtail its practice of placing medical marijuana patients on the Central Registry for child abuse and neglect when all they have done is follow their doctor’s recommendation.”

Jonathan Udell, Rose Law Group cannabis department co-chair

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