Lauren Smith is a pregnant woman who was arrested in South Carolina for using marijuana with the knowledge of her doctor to control nausea and help her gain weight. This is a letter from Dianne Post, CPIC NOW President to Solicitor Wilkins informing him of CPIC NOW’s stance on this issue.
November 28, 2023
Solicitor W. Walter Wilkins
305 E North St.
Greenville, SC 29601
RE: Lauren Smith, Criminal case now set for February 2024
Dear Solicitor Wilkins,
Central Phoenix Inez Casiano National Organization for Women is a Phoenix, Arizona chapter of a national NGO founded in 1966 to work on violence against women among other things and to promote intersectional solutions to the oppression faced by women.
We are very concerned about the case of Lauren Smith and fear that rather than protecting life, the intent and result has been to harm the child and the mother. We are also concerned that the targeting of pregnant women, especially African American pregnant women, is clearly discrimination based on sex and race. As a former U.S. attorney, you know that the practice of policing pregnancy and jailing pregnant women is not in accordance with international or constitutional law or common sense.
Ms. Smith used marijuana with the knowledge of her doctor to control nausea and help her gain weight as requested. Seven percent of pregnant women have Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which is a medical condition that causes you to lose essential nutrients needed during pregnancy. Thus for the health of the fetus, Smith had to do it. Yet you are now punishing her for helping the child who was born healthy. No research shows that marijuana is harmful to a fetus, but much research shows that separating a baby from its mother is harmful. That is what South Carolina did. They harmed the baby by separating her from her mother – to this day.
At the same time a poll released Nov. 9, 2023 found that 70% of Americans support legalizing marijuana and only 29% think it should be illegal. At least 50% have tried it. Thus punishing Ms. Smith and her baby for medically necessary treatment and for what 50% of Americans have done is clearly cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Further, it is a violation of international treaties because it is cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and a violation of family rights.
Research shows that domestic violence is harmful to a fetus not to mention the woman. Yet her violent boyfriend was not held responsible and put in jail for harming a fetus. It took a lot of courage and strength for her to escape from the situation yet you punish her not him.
Further, research shows that drug use by men can harm the sperm so that it produces abnormalities in a fetus. Yet men are not penalized for harming the fetus or held in jail for nine months to prevent them from committing violence though violence against pregnant women is very common. This is in violation of both the 14th Amendment equal protection clause and the 28th Amendment requiring that women and men be treated equally under the law. Finally, the commonsense part is that we all know that any judge who believes a prisoner cannot get drugs in a jail or prison is living under some kind of delusion.
Therefore, I ask you based on the law, common sense, and decency to drop these charges. Thank you.
President, CPIC NOW