“Marijuana use during pregnancy interrupts fetal brain development. This can result in permanent damage and compromise the development of future cognitive abilities (1). It is the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, that impacts the growth of the brain and this stage of the brain’s development.
Update 02/04/2017: The New York Times may finally be taking the public health impacts of marijuana commercialization more seriously if their article, “Pregnant Women Turn to Marijuana: Perhaps Harming Infants” is an indication. THC ingestion is among the more insidious downstream effects of the normalization of cannabis use. The percentages of pregnant moms using pot seems smallish, but the numbers have nearly doubled since legalization and commercialization. And that with more potent pot on the market.
The comparison with alcohol still irks. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a more universally understood risk. Don’t drink while pregnant is common advice. These are two completely different chemical exposures. With a beer or a glass of wine the water soluble alcohol is metabolized and excreted from the body in 24 hours. With cannabis, THC not only crosses placenta, but it is fat soluble and persists in the fatty tissues and breast milk for weeks or months–much more health education needed here.
Colorado hospitals have THC-positive babies needing extra care now in there maternity wards nearly every day now.
Marijuana investors and businesses would be wise to begin to accrue a legal liability fund. It is only a matter of time for evidence and public health policy to catch up, as it did with the tobacco industry and spurn lawsuits to reoup the costs caused by the downstream effects of THC normalization. Continue reading