Pregnancy is a crazy time for most women – full of tremendous emotion, excitement, fear, nausea, discomfort and pain. During this time, we are told by doctors, friends, family, and Google that we need to avoid all different types of food including: deli meat, seafood, undercooked meat, anything with raw eggs, sprouts, and unpasteurized dairy. We are also told that we need to avoid alcohol and there is a slew of prescription drugs that we can’t even come close to. But what about marijuana???
Marijuana has been shown to reduce nausea and increase appetite. So much so, that the FDA has approved a synthetic version of THC (the cannabinoid in marijuana that causes the “high”) called Marinol. This prescription drug is indicated for cancer patients that experience nausea and decreased appetite due to chemotherapy. As we all know, many pregnant women experience morning sickness of varying degrees. It is a very common and sometimes debilitating side effect of pregnancy that can sometimes affect the fetus’s ability to get the nutrients it needs. Many women are seeking what they consider to be natural alternatives to prescription drugs so they are more and more commonly looking to marijuana for relief.
In June, the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published a study that demonstrated 69% of cannabis dispensaries in Colorado recommended cannabis products to pregnant women. 36% stated that cannabis was safe to use during pregnancy. This statement is in direct opposition to the evidence that shows THC crosses the placenta. Because of this, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that smoking marijuana during pregnancy could cause low birth weights and that the effects could be similar to smoking tobacco.
The results of this disturbing study prove why regulation and monitoring of medical cannabis products is so badly needed. Although some budtenders and dispensary owners or staff are very knowledgeable, very few are qualified to make medical statements regarding effects on unborn babies (or other medical conditions). Ingestion or inhalation of medical marijuana should always be discussed with a physician under any circumstances – especially during pregnancy. Regulation and legalization would allow for more studies related to contraindications (when a drug should not be used) and side effects for various patient populations. Until legalization and proper regulation occurs, it is up to each individual to be as informed as possible and to always proceed with caution.