New CDC Study Reinforces Alarms Raised Over Pregnant Women and Marijuana Use in “Legal” Marijuana States

Today, a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that among pregnant women surveyed in 2017, those who gave live birth in marijuana-legal states Alaska and Maine had the highest rate of marijuana use, followed by medical marijuana states Illinois, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
“Marijuana use during pregnancy is a rising — and concerning — trend,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former White House drug policy advisor. “The push for commercialization of marijuana and the normalization of the pot industry has sent a message to the public that use of this drug is safe, as evident by the dramatic decreases in rates of perceived harm. In reality, today’s marijuana is much stronger than in the past and leaps and bounds ahead of the available research, which already displays significant risks to mental health. It’s time our lawmakers get serious about discussing the ramifications of the continued expansion of marijuana commercialization.”
According to the study, 9.8 percent of women reported using marijuana before pregnancy, 4.2 percent reported use during pregnancy, and 5.5 percent reported use after pregnancy.
Alarmingly, 12.1% of Maine women reported using marijuana during their pregnancy, the highest of the states surveyed. Data show the most common method of use to be smoking, however, 4.5 percent of women who used marijuana during pregnancy reported using high potency dabs. More recent data must be studied to better understand the growing threat to pregnant women.
According to a recent, first of its kind General Advisory released by United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams, marijuana use among pregnant women rose by 69% (4.2% to 7.1%) between 2009 and 2016.
It is the position of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that “women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use. Women reporting marijuana use should be counseled about concerns regarding potential adverse health consequences of continued use during pregnancy” Additionally In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that “…it is important to advise all adolescents and young women that if they become pregnant, marijuana should not be used during pregnancy”.
The advice of top scientists, doctors, and researchers, however, appears to run counter to the marijuana industry. In Colorado, 83 percent of medical marijuana dispensaries, and just over 60 percent of recreational marijuana dispensaries recommended marijuana to pregnant women. As marijuana becomes normalized, states must protect pregnant women from this misinformation.
Even after pregnancy, marijuana use can still present risks for newborns. THC, the main psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, can be found in breast milk for up to six days after use. It may affect the newborn’s brain development, resulting in a host of long-term consequences.
Notably, this study was released just days after the release of a massive study in Nature Medicine that found women who use marijuana during pregnancy had 1.5 greater odds of having a child with autism.