Is It Safe to Smoke Marijuana During Pregnancy?

Marijuana use during pregnancy is definitely a topic that has been in the news. Right now, 33 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) have some type of approved medical marijuana/cannabis program while ten of those states and D.C. have legalized small amounts for recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Just recently, a study was published in JAMA Network Open that looked at self-reported marijuana usage among pregnant women.

The study itself looked at 276,991 pregnant women in Northern California from 2009 to 2017. In 2018, California legalized recreational marijuana. Overall, the study found an increase in use of marijuana for the following scenarios: one year before pregnancy, in early pregnancy and frequency of usage overall. It’s also worth pointing out that actual numbers are probably much higher, since women had to self-report, and may have held back their usage to healthcare professionals, say authors of the study.

Information from this study supports the idea that a growing number of moms-to-be are using marijuana. But all of this doesn’t quite answer the simple question: Is smoking marijuana during pregnancy safe?

Like many medical or healthcare-related questions, the answer is not a clear “yes” or “no.” But, there is no evidence that cannabis is safe for pregnant women. Dr. Kelly Young-Wolff, one of the study’s lead authors told NBC News, “No amount of cannabis use has been shown to be safe during pregnancy. We do know that cannabis crosses the placenta and reaches the fetus.”

Furthermore, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) discourages the use of marijuana during pregnancy over concerns for both the mom-to-be and the neurodevelopment of the baby. Possible risks include the baby being smaller at birth and stillbirth along with behavioral problems later in life for the child. They provide a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that address the topic of marijuana and pregnancy.  Here are a few questions of note that we’d like to point out:

  • Should I use medical marijuana during pregnancy? Medical marijuana is the same as non-medical marijuana, therefore it is not any safer during pregnancy. If you use medical marijuana, talk to your healthcare provider to discuss safe treatments to use during pregnancy.
  • Should I stop using marijuana if I’m trying to get pregnant?Yes – marijuana can affect the baby as early as the first trimester.
  • Can marijuana treat morning sickness? There is no evidence to support the idea that smoking pot is helpful in managing morning sickness. If you’re having trouble with morning sickness, contact your healthcare provider. There are diet and lifestyle choices that can help ease morning sickness along with FDA-approved medications to treat nausea and vomiting. (We’ve also previously written about Six Tips for Easing Morning Sickness During Pregnancy.)
  • Is edible marijuana safer than smoked marijuana? According to ACOG, there is a higher risk of overdose from edibles versus smoked marijuana because it is not always possible to tell how strong the marijuana is before eating and digesting it. Edible marijuana is not safer than smoked marijuana during pregnancy.

Any information in this article is not intended to be used as medical advice, but instead for thought and consideration. If you have further questions about marijuana use during pregnancy, please contact your healthcare provider. 

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