In today’s society, we are bombarded with a myriad of public opinions, yet only a few individuals will take the time to look at the studies that have been used to formulate these opinions. Biased science results in a misinformed society. Are there benefits to exposing a child to marijuana in the womb? Medical marijuana doctors are openly addressing the risk versus benefit of pregnant women using marijuana, and the benefits far outweigh any risks.
Medical marijuana is possibly an untapped spring of relief for pregnant women. Twenty-three states have begun recognizing marijuana’s medicinal benefits, and have legalized its prescription use. Yet, while numerous additional states are considering the idea of legalizing medicinal marijuana, it continues to be a heavily debated subject. Many physicians are especially uncomfortable with prescribing it to pregnant women. Studies have shown that the use of marijuana may triple stillbirths.
The Daily Beast has cited that many doctors continue to refuse to sign off on medicinal licenses for pregnancy within states that have legalized medicinal marijuana. National guidelines commonly warn against the use of marijuana in pregnancy. A publicized 1991 study, completed in Jamaica, is often overlooked or ignored. This study was completed by Dr. Dreher, and found that children of marijuana-using mothers were better adjusted than children born to non-using mothers. This study should debunk the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) recommendations for women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy to avoid marijuana. ACOG base their recommendation on findings that show endocannabinoids play a fundamental role in the normal brain development of the fetus.
The endocannabinoid system is in all humans and is a receptor site that attracts cannabinoid THC. THC is the main ingredient in marijuana. The body also naturally produces cannabinoids. These are active compounds that stimulate healing and due to their psychoactive ingredients can stimulate the sensations associated with intoxication. THC is naturally attracted to the endocannabinoid system and studies suggest it offers a number of medicinal benefits, including improving the appetite and providing pain relief. Additional cannabinoids in marijuana provide different benefits, such as cannabigerol (CBG). CBG has been discovered to reduce inocular pressure. This is ideal for patients with glaucoma. The entourage effect is the interaction of multiple cannabinoids molecules. The effects of marijuana are believed to cause a synergy of benefits.
• Fatty acids
When each compound is separated, the synergy affect is lost. The compounds found in marijuana do not have the same beneficial effects when they are separated. Marinol is an example of a medicine that is based on one separated cannabinoid. It was approved by the FDA in the 1980s, and it was believed that Merinol would offer the same benefits as the entire cannabis plant. It contained a pure synthetic THC, but it was quickly seen that the other compounds found in marijuana play a large role in its medicinal effects. It was approved to treat the side effects of chemotherapy, and it proved to a poor substitute for cannabis.
Will the synergy effect of marijuana benefit pregnancy? Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a pregnancy disease that doctors are divided on recommending for treatment with marijuana. It has not been marked as an official treatment. Trinity Dogood used marijuana to treat HG. “I couldn’t stop heaving long enough to take a hit from the pipe, so he took a hit and blew it into my face,” Dogood said. Soon after that Dogood stopped “vomiting up stomach acid.”
HG Pregnancy Disease Symptoms
• Rapid weight loss
Proper weight gain for the woman is essential for proper development of the fetus.
Malnutrition, due to uncontrollable nausea and vomiting, is a serious health and safety concern for the woman and fetus.
Dehydration, due to uncontrollable nausea and vomiting, is a safety concern for the woman and fetus.
• Early pregnancy hospitalization
HG is the leading cause of early pregnancy hospitalization.
The Daily Beast shared Trinity Dogood’s experience with marijuana for the treatment of HG. Dogood had exhausted all natural remedies and her doctor had not prescribed anything that substantially treated the HG symptoms. Researchers were void of solid answers. A 2014 study produced in Hawaii, where medical marijuana became legal in 2000, shared that women experiencing extreme nausea were more likely to use marijuana during pregnancy. Dogood is being monitored by Child Services, because the baby was born with marijuana in its system. The mother has concluded using marijuana at 36 weeks, and marijuana was not detected in her system.
Researchers have since concluded that Hawaii’s marijuana use could indicate marijuana as an anti-nausea medication. Although they concluded research could “indicate use of marijuana as an anti-emetic (either with or without a prescription from a licensed health care provider) among those experiencing severe morning sickness”, they simultaneously noted that using marijuana before pregnancy increased the risk of increased nausea in pregnant women. “Although medical use of marijuana has been legal in Hawaii for some time, the issue is still accompanied by significant controversy within the state, as it is in the rest of the country,” researchers concluded. “More research is needed to investigate the exact nature of the relationship between marijuana use and severe nausea during pregnancy, as well as to quantify other risks to mother and fetus associated with marijuana use during pregnancy.”
The Daily Beast quoted New Jersey obstetrician Anzalone as saying that the risks of HG going untreated could be far greater than the risk of using marijuana. “I did obstetrics for 25 years,” Anzalone said. “On a scale from 1 to 10 [in terms of severity], [HG] is off the charts…marijuana would help tremendously.”
Medical Marijuana Doctors Recommendations
Dr. Dreher has released research information showing that children of marijuana using mothers were better adjusted than those born to non-using mothers. She has thoroughly researched and released studies that have been conducted objectively and intelligently over the last three decades. Cannabis Culture Magazine highlights the study in which Dr. Dreher compared 30 women who used marijuana during pregnancy and 30 women who did not. The babies’ neonatal Brazelton Behavioral Scale responses were observed at one day, three days, and 30 days. On day one, no differences were observed. On day three, slight differences were observed. By day 30, significant differences were exposed. The 30 babies born to using mothers did better on every neonatal variable, and they proved to have significantly better stability and reflexes. Dr. Dreher and a team of colleagues hold that marijuana offers therapeutic benefits to both the pregnant women and their unborn children. Their studies imply that marijuana compounds may offer a beneficial impact on the newborn’s health. Studies show that the endocannabinoid system is highly active during pregnancy and while nursing. Studies have found that natural endocannabinoids are active in breast milk, and these natural cannabinoids are similar to those in marijuana. They may offer similar benefits.
Possible Fetal and Newborn Benefits
• Implantation of the embryo to the uterine wall
• Providing guidance of newly formed brain cells for improved neural development
• Natural protection from the loss of brain cells during early development
• Encouraging the initiation of breast-feeding
Marijuana may be a resource that offers multiple untapped benefits for the fetus, newborn and the mother. Medical marijuana doctors are openly discussing the risk versus benefit of pregnant women using marijuana, and the benefits of marijuana appear to far outweigh any risks.