Newsflash! Don't Smoke Pot If You're Prego
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Newsflash! Don’t Smoke Pot If You’re Prego

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This post was originally published on February 17, 2015.

You’d think it’d be obvious that lighting up a joint while pregnant or nursing a baby is bad news, but not all women or pot advocates agree. Research on the matter remains preliminary, but some politicians are worried about the matter and trying to pass legislation to discourage prego toking.

Regulation in Colorado

Now that recreational pot is legal in Colorado, there’s talk of a new mandate that would force pot dispensary owners to slap big signs all over their shops to warn women about the harm smoking weed presents for an unborn baby (because women are too stupid to not know that?) Not surprisingly, one of the sponsors of the bill is a male politician, a type that often seems to be the most concerned with what women do or do not do with their reproductive systems.

“It’s important to have notification that there is risk,” said Republican Rep. Jack Tate, sponsor of the bill.

Not All That Black and White

The bill is controversial for several reasons. First off, many pregnant women use marijuana to ward off the debilitating nausea that goes with being knocked up. It’s also been used to alleviate life-threatening (and fetus-threatening) symptoms of the rare pregnancy complication hyperemesis gravidarum, which sends pregnant mothers into continual vomiting fits to the point of severe dehydration and malnourishment.

In addition to these medicinal uses, it’s nearly impossible to get empirical data on the effects of smoking weed during pregnancy, because women could potentially have their kids taken away by child services if they admit, even to researchers, that they toked while prego. You can see where this puts a damper on any solid research efforts. On top of that, it’s pretty much illegal to run active studies on pregnant women where scientists instruct them to smoke weed, tobacco, drink alcohol or take any other drugs. The research that’s out there has mostly taken place retrospectively, so it just doesn’t hold tons of weight.

Tyler Henson, president of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, called the proposal “another attempt to discredit and ignore the popular public opinion of marijuana’s medicinal use.”

Or Maybe it Is Black and White?

There is, of course, evidence that smoking weed poses real risks for unborn kids.

THC, the psychoactive ingredient in weed that causes all sorts of cognitive and psychiatric havoc, gets passed down to the fetus through the placenta and into a baby’s belly through breast milk, according to a Colorado health report just issued this week. While the brains behind the survey say the consequences of THC exposure aren’t known in the unborn, you can gather that, given the chemical causes all sorts of problems in adolescent minds, the idea of it being passed down to fetuses and babies is pretty horrific.

Thankfully the docs quoted in the CBSNews story on the topic agree that “There is no known safe amount of marijuana use during pregnancy.”

Well, Duh

While many women are sick of being told what to do with their bodies by a bunch of right-winged dudes, it’s still a no brainer that smoking weed when knocked up is potentially dangerous, and quite frankly really stupid, unless it’s used medicinally for serious conditions. Given the overwhelming evidence that THC spoils brains and the additional proof that it gets passed down through the placenta and breast milk, pregnant women who toke are taking a major chance that their kid have psychological troubles as they grow up.

Will posting warning signs all over pot shops stop the problem? I’m guessing now.

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About Author

Tracy Chabala is a freelance writer for many publications including the LA Times, LA Weekly, Smashd, VICE and Salon. She writes mostly about food, technology and culture, in addition to addiction and mental health. She holds a Master's in Professional Writing from USC and is finishing up her novel.