- Associated Press - Friday, November 27, 2015

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - A Chilean mother says a hospital is restricting her right to see her newborn daughter because she acknowledged smoking marijuana days before she gave birth.

Sindy Melany Ortiz said that during labor she told hospital officials that she had smoked pot to alleviate pain in one of her arms that had been broken.

Six hours after her daughter Luciana was born on Nov. 19, a social worker and a psychologist told her that the hospital had activated a security protocol and that her baby needed to be transferred to the neonatology unit. She said that since then, she’s only been allowed to see her for 2 ½ hours a day and is not allowed to breast-feed her.

“The pain (in my arm) was too strong. We researched several methods to ease it and we took a decision as a family because we didn’t think it would affect the baby,” Ortiz said. “It wasn’t recreational, it was strictly medicinal.”

Asked about the allegation, hospital officials in the southern city of Talcahuano say they were just following protocol when they alerted a local court that tests found traces of substances that could put the baby at risk.

“We’ve taken actions for the greater good of the child,” said Patricia Sanchez, the hospital’s acting director. “There’s nothing out of the norm, and as consequence the baby is hospitalized.”

The court ordered the baby to remain at the Las Higueras hospital until it takes a decision during a hearing on Thursday.

Planting, selling and transporting marijuana is illegal in Chile and carries prison terms of up to 15 years. But the law allows medical use of marijuana with the authorization of several ministries.

A Chilean municipality harvested legal medical marijuana this year as part of a government-approved pilot project aimed at helping ease pain in cancer patients. Las Higueras Hospital is part of the program along with the Daya Foundation, a nonprofit group that sponsors pain-relieving therapies.

More than 20 U.S. states allow some form of medical marijuana and Colorado and Washington have legalized personal use. In the Americas, Uruguay became the first nation to approve a legal marijuana market in 2013.

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Luis Andres Henao on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao

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