Marijuana and pregnancy is a fascinating discussion that’s challenging to answer. There’s mixed results on the research of the effects of cannabis on pregnant mothers. Most of this research was performed at the peak of the drug war in the 1970s and 1980s, when the United States was really trying to reduce illicit drugs by funding researchers who could find harms of cannabis. So, it is generally done by researchers trying to find harms and not looking at the issues objectively.
Some of this research would study people who smoked cigarettes and marijuana for example. Researchers would say, “Oh, here’s these harms to the baby,” but they would not separate the people who smoked cigarettes from people who smoked marijuana. The latest research includes some possible evidence that taking cannabinoids can affect birth weight, but it’s not a dangerous effect to the baby. It’s not something showing that babies are so small that they’re premature. As of yet, there’s not evidence that it’s damaging the fetus’s brain or that it’s hurting the mother.
In fact, a really fascinating study performed in Jamaica studied women who used cannabis as part of their daily herbal religious regimen. A researcher specifically wanted to know what was happening to the babies who were born to these mothers who smoked large amounts of marijuana every single day. She found the babies were not damaged in any way, and follow-up studies at one-year and five-years old did not find any evidence of damage, slower productivity, or any kind of developmental issues in the babies. In fact, they noticed the opposite.
Compared to a control group of Jamaican mothers who were not consuming cannabis, the babies whose mothers used cannabis were actually developing at a little faster rate. They were a little more responsive. They were a little bit more bonded and connected with their mother. It’s a fascinating study because it really debunks the drug war fears. It’s a singular study, but it’s important to realize that there’s more to cananbis than whether it harms the body. Remember, we produce chemicals nearly identical to the chemicals in marijuana, so it’s not surprising that evidence can be found that these chemicals could help rather than harm. According to this endocrinology study, anandamide, the chemical mimicked by THC (the active chemical in cannabis) is very active in the uterus during pregnancy and labor.
Now, that doesn’t mean we recommend, “You’re pregnant and great, you can open the floodgates and start using cannabis.” Firstly, I believe cannabis should be approached medically as it is a powerful medicinal herb. It’s important to think about symptoms one might address. If you have nausea, then look into the conventional drug that is prescribed for nausea. What does that drug do to the fetus? What does that drug do to the mother? What are the short-term and long-term effects from the pharmaceuticals for that symptom? Then compare it, side-by-side, to a few puffs of marijuana, which is a proven anti-emetic (it reduces nausea.). Then weigh those risks with a physician and qualified medical professional. Many pregnant women now have access to both prescription drugs and medical marijuana so it is important for doctors to be aware that mothers may be using it anyway. They should be inofrmed of the objecctive results based on research. If a doctor is still unsure of cannabis, then he or she should make sure that the conventional drug is far safer than a compound that is naturally active in the uterus.
What about other complicated health issues with many ailments? If we’re talking about seizures for example, then we would need to use a muscle relaxant. This is a drug that reduces the over-firing of the muscles and the nerves controlling the muscles. Typically, people use CBD for this. It is readily available and has been shown to reduce seizures. It has famously reduced seizures in children. If epilepsy or seizure issues are something that you or a family member is dealing with, then I would say CBD is a great place to start. CBD should also be considered for the pregnant mother in comparison to conventional drugs that may be toxic to the system. CBD is not seen as a toxin to the human body because we produce an endocannabinoid called 2AG which is mimicked by CBD.
CBDA and THCA, the cannabinoids from the raw cannabis plant, bring cells to homeostasis without the high. Unfortunately, THCA is not legal federally yet because THCA is a precursor to THC. That’s unfortunate, because a lot of people could benefit from THCA as a non-psychoactive alternative for inflammation relief. But THVC is trendy in the research community right now because they’re finding it is an appetite suppressant. So, if we’re looking at a culture where there’s a lot of obesity, THCV is a potential goldmine for pharmaceuticals. Eventually, we will breed plants and create drugs that have THCV for trials and experimentation.
If you live in a state with medical marijuana, go talk with your doctor. Smoking cannabis is one way to deliver cannabinoids to the body, but there is a much wider array of methods to administer the right cannabinoid in the right way for the right ailment. Your doctor may not know all the methods, but that’s what I’m here for.