Updated: Aug 11
Before we begin, for my novice readers here are some clarifying points (my experienced consumers can skip to the next paragraph 😊)
Marijuana, weed, ganja… all the same thing in popular culture (along with many other names)
Marijuana and Hemp are NOT the same but both are cannabis (stay with me)
I know I just shocked you with this because you hear about cannabis and automatically assume it’s weed. That’s how many use it, but hemp is in fact from the cannabis plant as well. See next point for differences.
Both marijuana and hemp contain THC (the “high” compound) The difference is that hemp contains less than .3% which in turn will NOT get you high)
THC & CBD are only 2 of hundreds of cannabinoids contained in the cannabis plant
There are multiple ways to consume marijuana and hemp including but not limited to: smoking (which can happen from a joint, dabbing, vaping), ingesting (by mouth or absorbing through the skin) … wait I’ll just do a masterclass later. Just know that there isn’t just one way to indulge in marijuana
I will be using marijuana and weed interchangeably throughout this series. I apologize in advance.
Legal weed, party for everyone?
Finally, legalization of marijuana, or weed as it’s commonly referred to; in many states has arrived. Whether it’s recreational use (10 states plus DC), medicinal use (32 states), we are seeing a steady increase in women consuming marijuana related products. Hemp has also been legalized in all 50 states for general consumption as well.
Note: I am not naïve to the fact that women were consuming long before legalization but not as publicly as we are seeing now. In fact, if you research, cannabis was used in China, Persia & other nations; to induce contractions, prevent miscarriages/stillbirths & reduce postnatal bleeding. You can read more on the historical use of cannabis, especially in midwifery, here.
In Part 1 of this series I want to tackle the stigma of pregnant and/or breastfeeding mothers consuming both marijuana and hemp products and our society’s response to it.
In this blog I will commonly refer to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as ACOG.
Prior to even becoming pregnant, many women consume weed for a variety of reasons. For some, it is purely recreational but honestly very few women are just smoking weed to get “high”. MOST women, I would venture to say, are indeed attempting to treat a much deeper issue going on. It may be pain, inflammation, anxiety and/or stress. Keep in mind it could also be a combination of many of these things.
Being a woman, especially a black woman… speaking from experience here 😊, can be challenging. Whether you are working a 9-5 or pursuing your passion of entrepreneurship; the stresses of everyday life are a lot. The pharmaceutical industry would have us relying heavily on medicine derived, in its inception, in a factory/laboratory. This includes medications that have severe side effects, as can be seen in any number of drug commercials during your favorite TV show.
Marijuana and hemp have proven to be a holistic alternative to those harsh drugs that provide the same type of relief. Realizing that life happens and that our needs as being whole women need to be met, for many women pregnancy is not a reason to stop consuming.
So, once a woman finds out she is pregnant, the real question is, do they TRULY need to stop consuming?
What do the white coats say…
Due to the fact that marijuana is still federally illegal, there is limited research on the true impacts of marijuana not only to adults but fetuses as well, so the general recommendation in the medical community is to abstain from marijuana products altogether.
The ACOG has this to say as a blanket statement: “There are insufficient data to evaluate the effects of marijuana use on infants during lactation and breastfeeding, and in the absence of such data, marijuana use is discouraged.”
Bottom line, they don’t know because they haven’t taken the time to do appropriate research. A plant that is proving to bring much needed aid to our veterans, people suffering with illnesses such as cancer, dementia and epilepsy and LIMITED research has been done?!
In fact, since there haven’t been enough studies done on human patients, they can only tell us what they “think” possible outcomes will be. Not fully understanding that people consume marijuana in multiple ways not solely through smoking, which a lot of these theories assume.
Is there ANY research?
Yes, there has been a few case studies done. You can find some of the findings listed here. My issue with the few studies that have been done, most were not done on humans and those that were, there is no clear understanding of the health of the plant used in the studies, what was the method of consumption and what was the consistency of use (i.e. what were the genetics behind each form of cannabis used?)
A mother myself, I experienced severe morning sickness with my pregnancies, a condition called Hyperemesis. As a truth moment, my first pregnancy I didn’t even consider smoking marijuana. With my second I definitely considered it but my OBGYN was adamant that if I smoked (which they can tell because of the numerous blood and urine samples they take during pregnancy) that she would drop me as a patient. There was no one I trusted more with bringing my baby into the world, so I had to choose and I SUFFERED my entire pregnancy with HORRIBLE anxiety, morning sickness, etc. just so I could keep my OBGYN.
With my first pregnancy I suffered as well and was giving a Zofran pump to help with the nausea. A drug they claimed had been in use and tested for over a decade. About 5 years after my daughter was born I was up late one night watching T.V. and saw a commercial stating that “…studies have concluded Zofran causes birth defects, particularly congenital heart defects, cleft palate defects, and kidney defects”.
GlaxoSmithKline allegedly never tested their drug on pregnant women or followed up with the child that resulted in that pregnancy. Yet, this medicine was widely in use. Again, I had a PUMP injecting me multiple times a day. I can only thank God that my daughter is healthy and brilliant but there are many claims out there of women & children that were impacted. GlaxoSmithKline pled guilty and paid close to a billion dollars in fines and settlements. They will finally go on trial in January 2020.
Somehow clean cannabis products are allegedly more harmful though.
What do every day people say?
When we posed this question on our social media, we received a few responses:
@alannajoymccreary – says “Cannabis makes me a better mom I smoked while pregnancy and occasionally while breastfeeding. I swear my kids do great bc of weed”
@thatbv – “Yes, I did (consume marijuana). Would again. All my kids are in GT (gifted) programs”
Anonymous – “I definitely used a vape during my recent pregnancy because it limited the smell. I would do it all over again because it lessened my morning sickness a lot. My son is developing just fine at 8 months. I have no regrets”
I have spoken to many women who want to consume but would feel more comfortable if there were more studies done on the long-term impacts.
Well what are they doing in Canada?
With full legalization in Canada, it’s a good question to determine what medical professionals are advising there. In an article I found during my research here’s what they had to say:
What are family doctors and pediatricians telling mothers about cannabis use?
If you look at the Canadian Pediatrics Society or the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Canada, their message is that there is no safe amount. There is enough research to indicate there is a potential for risk. Not just the potential. There are actual risks, the research shows.
Why is there so little research on cannabis and pregnancy?
There is the legalization aspect. Cannabis was illegal for a long time. That made it difficult for researchers to gain funding and gain access to cannabis for research purposes. There is some evidence leading up to legalization that there was a perception that because it was legal it must be safe, or because it is natural it is a safe substance.
Cannabis use, regardless of the potency, is on the rise. Marijuana is being used in the medical field for various ailments and we need to not only move forward with federal legalization but also continue to do research to help back the general consensus that, clean cannabis is a safe and healthy alternative.
Furthermore, in legal states especially, the state laws need to catch up and help protect those that consume. A woman who suffers from PTSD or severe anxiety and has a medical card to smoke shouldn’t have to put her own mental health in jeopardy simply because she is pregnant, or should she?
Let us know your thoughts! Which side of this debate are you on?
Love & Light,
Founder of ReLeaf Health Cannabis
Disclaimer: All sources are sited through links. Anything not cited is an opinion and not supported by the FDA or representative of any platform that chooses to repost or use. Please do your due diligence and contact your physician with any additional questions or concerns.