Medical Marijuana dispensaries are telling pregnant women it is okay to use marijuana to curb pregnancy-induced nausea and Morning Sickness.
Radio Boston’s WBUR.90‘s health segment covered a new study where a mystery caller contacted 400 cannabis dispensaries in Colorado which voted to legalize marijuana in 2012 and said,”Hi, I’m eight weeks pregnant and feeling really nauseated” and asked “Are there any products that are recommended for morning sickness?”
The study turned up some striking results: Nearly 70 percent of the dispensaries recommended some sort of cannabis to cope with morning sickness in early pregnancy.
The recommendations being given by dispensaries are in direct contrast to the mainstream medical consensus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists puts out clear guidelines saying that although the research is far from perfect and much remains unknown, there are enough concerning findings — in animals and children — that they recommend against cannabis use during pregnancy.
“There are concerns for fetal harm, mostly related to fetal growth, as well as some concerns from some more longitudinal studies for adverse brain development when babies are exposed in utero to marijuana,” says Dr. Torri Metz, a high-risk obstetrician at Denver Health Medical Center and senior author of the study in this month’s journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The concerns extend beyond smoking to other modes of consuming cannabis, she adds, because all of them send the chemical compound THC into the mother’s bloodstream, and it crosses into the placenta.
Here is some of the VERY bad advice the dispensary workers told the mystery pregnant caller:
• “Edibles would not hurt the child. They would be going through the digestional tract.”
• “[A]s long as you are not heavily, harshly smoking — like the smoke, I think that is the only way it could physically damage the baby, cause you are inhaling smoke.”
• “When I was pregnant and started to feel a little nausea coming on, I did not smoke more than two times a day.”
Per WHUR’s report:
Some of the staffers did note that the packaging of cannabis products in Colorado is required to display warnings of increased risks for pregnant and breastfeeding women. But staffers often recommended cannabis nonetheless, the study found.
Dr. Metz says the findings highlighted “themes of distrust” among dispensary staffers toward mainstream medical guidelines.
“It was disheartening to hear some of the ideas being promoted — that you shouldn’t listen to your doctor, and people were not encouraging women to speak with their physicians,” she says.
But, Metz adds, the study has prompted widespread discussion in Colorado, and public health staffers are hoping to work with the cannabis industry more to get onto the same page about discouraging pregnant women from using cannabis.
“I think the first step was really just being able to say, ‘Hey, look, this is the advice that’s being given,’ and now there’s a real opportunity here for education,” she says. “I’m hoping that at least the word gets out to women that we don’t recommend marijuana during pregnancy.”
A marijuana industry spokesperson told Colorado Public Radio that the industry does tell dispensaries to suggest medical consultations with doctors, and the study tells the industry that dispensary staffs need better training.
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