I just found out I am pregnant and I am 11 weeks. I am embarrassed to admit I smoked marijuana (casually, not everyday) until I found out a few days ago. Aside from the health risks for my child, I am hearing that even though it's early on, the child could test positive for THC come time for labor. Is this true? I will not touch the stuff now and won't for the duration of my pregnancy. Is it possible they will find THC and is it mandatory for the baby to be drug tested in Florida?


2 Answers 2


Florida screens for all 31 disorders recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Recommended Uniform Screening Panel and an additional 22 secondary disorders, unless a parent objects in writing. Before leaving the hospital, a few drops of blood are taken from the heel of the baby and the ears are also tested for hearing.

Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) has been added to the panel of disorders screened in Florida.

None of these are drug tests.

They are for diseases you've mostly never heard of, such as Propionic acidemia, 3-Hydroxy-3-methyglutaric aciduria, Holocarboxylase synthase deficiency, ß-Ketothiolase deficiency, Glutaric acidemia type I, etc.

Again, they are not drug tests.

Infants are not screened for parental drug use in Florida. You may request special counselling if you fear the effect of drug use during pregnancy on your child.

Please note this statement put out by the American College of OB-GYN:

Drug enforcement policies that deter women from seeking prenatal care are contrary to the welfare of the mother and fetus. Incarceration and the threat of incarceration have proved to be ineffective in reducing the incidence of alcohol or drug abuse. Obstetrician–gynecologists should be aware of the reporting requirements related to alcohol and drug abuse within their states. They are encouraged to work with state legislators to retract legislation that punishes women for substance abuse during pregnancy. ...The use of the legal system to address perinatal alcohol and substance abuse is inappropriate. Obstetrician–gynecologists should be aware of the reporting requirements related to alcohol and drug abuse within their states. In states that mandate reporting, policy makers, legislators, and physicians should work together to retract punitive legislation and identify and implement evidence-based strategies outside the legal system to address the needs of women with addictions. These approaches should include the development of safe, affordable, available, efficacious, and comprehensive alcohol and drug treatment services for all women, especially pregnant women, and their families.

Florida mandates reporting only newborns that are “demonstrably adversely affected” by prenatal drug exposure.

I cannot say this often enough: physicians are, in general, opposed to reporting pregnant women who have used or abused drugs.

Schedule I drugs include stronger opioids, hallucinogenics, depressants, strong stimulants (such as beta-hydroxyfentanyl, heroin, LSD, mescaline, quaaludes, ethylamphetamine, cannabis, cannabicyclohexanol, etc.)

Schedule II drugs include opiates, stimulants, depressants and amphetamines (methadone, hydrocodone, dilaudid, demerol, cocaine, pentobarbital, methamphetamine, etc.)

Substance Abuse Reporting and Pregnancy The Role of the Obstetrician Gynecologist


Based on the information available on Florida's Health department website in this documentation of the Healthy Start program, it looks like you may be referred to this program if you admit to the obstetrician to your use. It appears that it is a voluntary program based on some of the language in the document; but if I were you I would consult a lawyer who is familiar with family law in the state of Florida for specifics, if you're concerned about the consequences of discussing this with your doctor.

If you do not admit to that, or fit in any of the criteria below, you likely will not involve Florida DHS. However, be aware that by 11 weeks, there could be consequences to your fetus's health, and you should strongly consider informing your doctor despite the consequences of such notification, in order to protect the health of your future child.

Criteria for entrance to the program:

  • Her own admission
  • A positive drug screen
  • A staff member witnessing the use
  • A report from a reliable source such as a trusted family member or professional.
  • Response to screening questions indicating use or abuse
  • Further observations or assessment of substance abuse history and patterns of use

Based on the above, it looks like you would be subject to visits for about three years, largely focused on ensuring the house is appropriate to raise a child in and helping you with your substance abuse problem, as well as monitoring the development of the child to ensure no symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or similar occur in the child, and to help deal with those symptoms that might occur.

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    There is no requirement for physicians in Florida to refer a woman who has used any drug into this program, unless the infant shows signs of being "demonstrably adversely affected" by a mother's drug use; even then, it's a joint program decision to admit the woman into the program. Advice to see a lawyer is overkill (imo). If this were the outcome of reporting use of a drug or medication during pregnancy, I would recommend against it. But I don't. I have never reported a woman for drug use during pregnancy and never will. Honesty, confidentiality, and a working relationship are sacrosanct. Feb 11, 2015 at 4:45
  • To you, sure, but are you confident every doctor in the state agrees with you? I don't see the harm in talking to a lawyer familiar with family law (and if income is an issue, likely one can be available pro bono for at least this kind of consultation). In particular I'm concerned with giving advice of this nature without at least the suggestion - because if you're wrong and the doctor does report, and I'm wrong and the program is not optional, this may involve significant DHS presence for three years or more.
    – Joe
    Feb 11, 2015 at 4:52
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    I have been in practice for decades, and have never known a doctor to report for this. Surely this is worth something more than what one reads on the internet. The harm is that it places a woman in an adversarial relationship with her physician. That is something that has been against the wishes of physicians for centuries. Feb 11, 2015 at 4:54
  • With marijuana even in the situation where there is a risk to foetal health the last figures I can recall put them well within the bounds of statistical error (and insignificant compared to typical air pollution exposure in a US city or not having adequate access to healthcare in an emergency.) There wouldn't be any action which could be taken to reverse the damage anyway. Feb 11, 2015 at 9:00

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