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Aug 18, 2020
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Is Cannabis Safe During Pregnancy?

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Given Cannabis’ natural healing properties and many of the negative pregnancy – related symptoms, nausea, stress, and loss of appetite, it is reasonable to wonder whether or not Cannabis is an effective natural remedy to pregnancy’s challenges. Also, these symptoms don’t disappear once the baby is born. Many postpartum moms experience anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, and even pain. This has caused many healers to study the efficacy of marijuana use in pregnant and postpartum women.

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In a 2020 study done in California, around 11% of women reported using Cannabis while pregnant. This is a near doubling of pre-legalization levels: 6% vs. 11%. However, the study didn’t control for cannabis composition. It wasn’t strain – specific, nor did it track THC levels. Also, it didn’t consider the use of additional drugs such as nicotine and caffeine. Consequently, it’s difficult to parse out the effect of Cannabis alone on birth outcomes and child development.

That said, the results of Cannabis use during pregnancy are inconclusive. In part, the timing of cannabis use during pregnancy may be associated with unique impacts. The cannabinoid type I (CB1) receptors that THC activates to make you feel high aren’t available in significant numbers in a developing child until 19 weeks of gestation. That doesn’t mean that a fetus can’t get high if its mother is ingesting marijuana before it reaches 19 weeks. However, because the fetus’ brain doesn’t have the receptors to feel high, marijuana would have a different effect on the fetus.

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Cannabinoid receptors do have a significant role in fetal development. For instance, they can affect how brain cells develop, tell them where to go, which ones to connect to, and what to look like. The activation of CB1 receptors plays an important role in brain development that could be substantially disrupted by THC if the mother consumes cannabis while pregnant. Also, studies have shown that pregnant mothers who consume THC are more likely to give birth to low – weight babies and experience pre – mature deliveries. When compared to mothers who were regular cannabis users, but stopped during their pregnancy, the likelihood for low – birth disappeared.

Studies have identified the impact that THC has on brain regions involved in impulse control, executive functioning, emotional development, and reward processing. Consistent with THC’s impact of these brain regions, additional, comprehensive assessments of gestational cannabis use have found that children of cannabis – using mothers are more likely to be impulsive, hyperactive, have deteriorated abstract reasoning, and worse executive functioning. Also, repeated exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke can build up over time due to the fat – soluble nature of THC and other cannabinoids.

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Despite the information available regarding the negative effects of THC and CBD on a gestational child, the answer as to whether or not cannabis use is safe during pregnancy is not as clear cut. A mother’s mental health and well – being have a direct impact on maternal bonding and infant care. When making the decision a mother would do well to weigh the known negative effects of cannabis consumption while pregnant, and her own needs, and to first seek other ameliorative alternatives.

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