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As a mother of six, I know more about morning sickness and labor than I care to remember.  I was talking to Dr. John P. Morgan of the NY Medical School about the use of Cannabis during pregnancy.  He explained that there were certain properties of cannabis that were indicated during labor; Cannabis' mild analgesic effect for pain, the anti-spasmotic for cramping, the antinausea, and the relaxation effect on muscles.  Women used it for thousands of years in childbirth, but the drug war has changed all that.  Woe to women. 

One couple I'm close to just had their third baby. At the birth and afterwards the doctor commented on what a 'mellow' baby it was. I asked the mom if she had been less stressed during the pregnancy. She said, "No it's not that. I think it's because it is the first pregnancy during which I've used cannabis." Kay Lee


Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Neonatal Outcomes in Jamaica: An Ethnographic Study

OBJECTIVE: To identify neurobehavioral effects of prenatal marijuana exposure on neonates in rural Jamaica.

DESIGN: Ethnographic field studies and standardized neurobehavior assessments during the neonatal period.

SETTING: Rural Jamaica in heavy-marijuana-using population.

PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-four Jamaican neonates exposed to marijuana prenatally and 20 nonexposed neonates.

Measurements and main results: Exposed and nonexposed neonates were compared at 3 days and 1 month old, using the Brazelton Neonatal Assessment Scale, including supplementary items to capture possible subtle effects. There were no significant differences between exposed and nonexposed neonates on day 3. At 1 month, the exposed neonates showed better physiological stability and required less examiner facilitation to reach organized states. The neonates of heavy-marijuana-using mothers had better scores on autonomic stability, quality of alertness, irritability, and self-regulation and were judged to be more rewarding for caregivers.

CONCLUSIONS: The absence of any differences between the exposed on nonexposed groups in the early neonatal period suggest that the better scores of exposed neonates at 1 month are traceable to the cultural positioning and social and economic characteristics of mothers using marijuana that select for the use of marijuana but also promote neonatal development.

Melanie C. Dreher (PhD1), Kevin Nugent (PhD1), and Rebekah Hudgins (MA1)
Schools of Nursing, Education, and Public Health, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice

Pubdate: Sun, 01 May 2005
Source: Mothering (US)
Section: Issue 124, May/June 2004
Copyright: 2005 Mothering Magazine

Warnings that marijuana causes birth defects date back to the late 1960s.1 Some researchers claimed to have found chromosomal abnormalities in blood cells taken from marijuana users. They predicted that young men and women who used marijuana would produce deformed babies.2 Although later studies disproved this theory,3 some current drug education materials still claim that genetic damage is passed on by marijuana users to their children.4

Today, researchers look for a direct effect of THC [for tetrahydrocannabinol, either of two physiologically active isomers, C21H30O2, from hemp plant resin] on the fetus. In animal studies, THC has been shown to produce spontaneous abortion, low birth weight, and physical deformities-but only with extremely large doses, only in some species of rodents, and only when THC is given at specific times during pregnancy.5 Because the effects of drugs on fetal development differ substantially across species,6 these studies have little or no relevance to humans. Studies with primates show little evidence of fetal harm from THC.7 In one study, researchers exposed chimpanzees to high doses of THC for up to 152 days and found no change in the sexual behavior, fertility, or health of their offspring.8

Dozens of studies have compared the newborn babies of women who used marijuana during pregnancy with the babies of women who did not. Mainly, they have looked for differences in birth weight, birth length, head circumference, chest circumference, gestational age, neurological development, and physical abnormalities. Most of these studies, including the largest study to date with a sample of over twelve thousand women,9 have found no differences between babies exposed to marijuana prenatally and babies not exposed.10 Given the large number of studies and the large number of measures, some differences are likely to occur by chance. Indeed, researchers have found differences in both directions. In some studies, the babies of marijuana users appear healthier and hardier.11 In others, researchers have found more adverse outcomes in the babies of marijuana users.12

When adverse outcomes are found, they are inconsistent from one study to another, always relatively minor, and appear to have no impact on infant health or mortality.13 For example, in one recent study, researchers reported a statistically significant effect of marijuana on birth length. The marijuana-exposed babies, on average, were less than two-tenths of one inch shorter than babies not exposed to marijuana.14 Another study found a negative effect of marijuana on birth weight, but only for White women in the sample.15 In a third study, marijuana exposure had no effect on birth weight, but a small negative effect on gestational age.16 Overall, this research indicates no adverse effect of prenatal marijuana exposure on the
physical health of newborns.

Researchers have also examined older children for the effects of prenatal exposure to marijuana. A study of one-year-olds found no differences between marijuana-exposed and nonexposed babies on measures of health, temperament, personality, sleeping patterns, eating habits, psychomotor ability, physical development, or mental functioning.17 In two studies, one of three-year-olds,18 the other of four-year-olds,19 there was no effect of prenatal marijuana exposure on children's overall IQ test scores. However, in the first study, when researches looked at Black and White children separately, they found, among Black children only, slightly lower scores on two subscales of the IQ test. On one subscale, it was children exposed to marijuana only during the first trimester who scored lower. On the other subscale, it was children exposed during the second trimester who scored lower.20 In neither case did the frequency or quantity of mothers' marijuana use affect the outcomes. This makes it highly unlikely they were actually caused by marijuana. Nonetheless, this study is now cited as evidence that using marijuana during pregnancy impairs the intellectual capacity of children.21

Also widely cited are two recent case-control studies describing a relationship between marijuana use by pregnant women and two rare forms of cancer in their children. A case-control study compares people with a specific disease (the case sample) to people without the disease (the control sample). Using this method, researchers identify group differences in background, environment, lifestyle, drug use, diet, and the like that are possible causes of the disease.

A study of children with non-lymphoblastic leukemia reported a tenfold greater risk related to their mothers' use of marijuana during pregnancy.22 A second study reported a threefold greater risk of rhabdomyosarcoma.23  These calculations were based on women's reports that they used marijuana at some point during pregnancy. In the first study, ten out of the 204
case-group mothers (5 percent) reported marijuana use, compared to one out of the 204 control-group mothers (0.5 percent). In the second study, 8 percent of case-group mothers reported using marijuana, compared to 4.3 percent of controls.

These studies do not prove that marijuana use by pregnant women causes cancer in their children. They report a statistical association based solely on women's self-reports of marijuana use. It is likely that both groups of mothers underreported marijuana use; in other studies, researchers have found that marijuana use by pregnant women typically ranges from 10 to 30 percent.24 There is reason to suspect greater underreporting by control-group mothers, who were randomly selected and questioned about their marijuana use on the telephone. Because the mothers of the sick children were trying to help researches identify the cause of their children's disease, they had more reason to be honest about their illegal drug use.

Like all case-control studies, these two studies identified many differences between case-group mothers and control-group mothers, all of which could possibly lead scientists to discover the cause of these rare forms of cancer. Other factors associated with childhood rhabdomyosarcoma include low socioeconomic status, fathers' cigarette smoking, a family history of allergies, children's exposure to environmental chemicals, childhood diets that include organ meats, mothers' use of antibiotics during pregnancy, mothers being over age thirty at the time of the child's birth, overdue delivery, and the child having had fewer immunizations.25 Without additional research, none of the factors that are statistically associated with childhood cancer can be identified as causes of childhood cancer. At this time, there is no corroborative evidence to link marijuana with cancer. In fact, in a recent study, researchers found significantly lower rates of cancer in rats and mice following two years of exposure to extremely large doses of THC.26

Since 1978, psychologist Peter Fried and his colleagues have collected longitudinal data on prenatal marijuana exposure as part of the Ottawa Prenatal Prospective Study (OPPS). Over the years, these researchers have administered hundreds of tests to the same group of children, assessing their physical development, psychomotor ability, emotional and psychological adjustment, cognitive functioning, intellectual capacity, and behavior.

Out of all the OPPS studies and all the tests given, researchers have found very few differences between marijuana-exposed and nonexposed children. At age one, researchers found that marijuana-exposed infants scored higher on one set of cognitive tests.27 At age three, the children of moderate marijuana users (one to five joints per week during pregnancy) had higher scores on one test of psychomotor ability.28 At age four, the children of women who smoked marijuana heavily during pregnancy (an average of nineteen joints per week) scored lower on one subscale of one cognitive test.29 However, at ages five and six, this difference was no longer present.30 When the children were six, the researchers added several new measures of "attentional behavior." The children of heavy marijuana users scored lower on one computer-based test of "vigilance."31 Eleven new psychological and cognitive tests, administered to six-to nine-year-olds, showed no statistically significant differences between the children of marijuana users and nonusers. Parents rated marijuana-exposed children as having more "conduct problems," but this difference disappeared after the researchers controlled for confounding variables.32

Despite the overwhelming similarities in the children of marijuana users and nonusers, in their published reports OPPS researchers consistently highlight the occasional negative finding. Fried believes that these findings underestimate the harms of prenatal marijuana exposure. He suggests that "more sensitive measures" are needed because: instruments that provide a general description of cognitive abilities may not be capable of identifying nuances in neuro-behaviour that may discriminate between the marijuana-exposed and non-marijuana exposed children. . . . Tests that examine specific characteristics that may underline cognitive performance may be more appropriate and successful.33

Recently, Fried predicted that a new test of "executive function" would reveal marijuana-related deficits in preteen youngsters.34 A short time later, Fried announced that preliminary analysis of his data showed this effect was present.35 Almost immediately, his announcement appeared in U.S. government reports as evidence of marijuana's harm to the fetus.36 Additional reports of harm based on the OPPS sample, which now includes fewer than thirty marijuana-exposed children, may be forthcoming-despite the fact that, according to Fried, the consequences of prenatal drug exposure typically diminish as children get older.37 After controlling for known confounding variables, Fried estimates that prenatal drug exposure accounts for 8 percent or less of the variance in children's scores on developmental and cognitive tests-and this estimate is for alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana combined.38 In essentially all studies, marijuana contributes less than alcohol or tobacco.39 In addition, the findings differ from one study to another, and show no consistent relationship of fetal harm to either the timing or degree of marijuana exposure. While it is sensible to advise women to abstain from all drugs during pregnancy, the weight of current scientific evidence suggests that marijuana does not directly harm the human fetus.

NOTES 1. F. Hecht et al., "Lysergic-Acid-Diethylamide and Cannabis as
Possible Teratogens in Man," Lancet 2 (1968): 1087. G. Carakushansky et
al., "Lysergide and Cannabis as Possible Teratogens in Man," Lancet 1
(1969): 150-151.

2. T. H. Maugh, "Marihuana: The Grass May No Longer Be Greener," Science
185 (1974): 683-685.

3. S. Matsuyama and L. Jarvik, "Effects of Marihuana on the Genetic and
Immune Systems," in R. C. Petersen (ed.), Marihuana Research Findings, 1976
(Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1977), 179-193. K.
Morishima, "Effects of Cannabis and Natural Cannabinoids on Chromosomes and
Ova," in M. C. Braude and J. L. Ludford (eds.), Marijuana Effects on the
Endocrine and Reproductive Systems (Rockville, MD: National Institute on
Drug Abuse, 1984), 25-45.

4. Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education, Marijuana: Effects on the
Male, (Atlanta, GA: PRIDE, 1996). W. R. Spence, Marijuana: Its Effects and
Hazards (Waco, TX: Health Edco, undated). Peggy Mann, The Sad Story of Mary
Wanna (New York: Woodmere Press, 1988), 30.

5. J. Herclerode, "The Effect of Marijuana on Reproduction and
Development," in R. C. Petersen (ed.), Marijuana Research Findings: 1980
(Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1980), 137-166. E. L.
Abel, "Effects of Prenatal Exposure to Cannabinoids," in T. M. Pinkert
(ed.), Current Research on the Consequences of Maternal Drug Abuse
(Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1985), 20-35. D.
Hutchings and D. Dow-Edwards, "Animal Models of Opiate, Cocaine, and
Cannabis Use," Clinics in Perinatology 18 (1991): 1-22. M. Behnke and F. D.
Eyler "The Consequences of Prenatal Substance Use for the Developing Fetus,
Newborn, and Young Child," International Journal of the Addictions 28
(1993): 1341-1391. T. Wenger et al., "Effects of
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol on Pregnancy, Puberty, and the Neuroendocrine
System," in L. Murphy and A. Bartke (eds.), Marijuana/Cannabinoids:
Neurobiology and Neurophysiology (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1992), 539-560.

6. A. M. Rudolph, "Animal Models for Study of Fetal Drug Exposure," in C.
N. Chiang and C. C. Lee (eds.), Prenatal Drug Exposure: Kinetics and
Dynamics (Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1985), 5-16

7. P. A. Fried, "Postnatal Consequences of Maternal Marijuana Use," in T.
M. Pinkert (ed.), Current Research on the Consequences of Maternal Drug
Abuse (Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1985), 61-72. M. S.
Golub et al., "Peer and Maternal Social Interaction Patterns in Offspring
of Rhesus Monkeys Treated Chronically with Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol,"
in S. Agurell, The Cannabinoids: Chemical, Pharmacological, and Therapeutic
Aspects (Orlando, FL: Academic Press, 1984), 657-667. J. Herclerode (1980),
see Note 5.

8. D. M. Grilly et al., "Observations on the Reproductive Activity of
Chimpanzees Following Long-Term Exposure to Marijuana," Pharmacology 11
(1974): 304-307.

9. S. Linn et al., "The Association of Marijuana use with Outcome of
Pregnancy," American Journal of Public Health 73 (1983): 1161-1164.

10. P. H. Shiono et al., "The Impact of Cocaine and Marijuana Use on Low
Birth Weight and Preterm Birth: A Multicenter Study," American Journal of
Obstetrics and Gynecology 172 (1995): 19-27. E. M. Knight et al.,
"Relationships of Serum Illicit Drug Concentrations During Pregnancy to
Maternal Nutritional Status," Journal of Nutrition 124 (1994): 973-980S. K.
Tennes and C. Blackard, "Maternal Alcohol Consumption, Birthweight, and
Minor Physical Abnormalities," American Journal of Obstetrics and
Gynecology 138 (1980): 774-780. J. Hayes et al., "Newborn Outcomes with
Maternal Marijuana Use in Jamaican Women," Pediatric Nursing 14 (1988):
107-110. P. A. Fried and C. M. O'Connell, "A Comparison of the Effects of
Prenatal Exposure to Tobacco, Alcohol, Cannabis and Caffeine on Birth Size
and Subsequent Growth," Neurotoxicology and Teratology 9 (1987): 79-85. C.
M. O'Connell and P. A. Fried, "An Investigation of Prenatal Cannabis
Exposure and Minor Physical Anomalies in a Low Risk Population,"
Neurobehavioral Toxicology and Teratology 6 (1984): 345-350. G. A.
Richardson et al., "The Effect of Prenatal Alcohol, Marijuana and Tobacco
Exposure on Neonatal Behavior," Infant Behavioral Development 12 (1989):
199-209. S. Astley, "Analysis of Facial Shape in Children Gestationally
Exposed to Marijuana, Alcohol, and/or Cocaine," Pediatrics 89 (1992):
67-77. F. R. Witter and J. R. Niebyl, "Marijuana Use in Pregnancy and
Pregnancy Outcome," American Journal of Perinatology 7 (1990): 36-38.

11. M. C. Dreher et al., "Prenatal Exposure and Neonatal Outcomes in
Jamaica: An Ethnographic Study," Pediatrics 93 (1994): 254-60. K. Tennes et
al., "Marijuana: Prenatal and Postnatal Exposure in the Human," in T. M.
Pinkert (ed.), Current Research on the Consequences of Maternal Drug Abuse
(Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1985), 48-60.

12. E. E. Hatch and M. B. Bracken, "Effect of Marijuana Use in Pregnancy on
Fetal Growth," American Journal of Epidemiology 124 (1986): 986-993. J.
Kline et al., "Cigarettes, Alcohol and Marijuana: Varying Associations with
Birthweight," International Journal of Epidemiology 16 (1987): 44-51. B.
Zuckerman et al., "Effects of Maternal Marijuana and Cocaine Use on Fetal
Growth," New England Journal of Medicine 320 (1989): 762-768. P. A. Fried
et al., "Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Decreased Length of Gestation,"
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 150 (1984): 23-26. R. Hingson
et al., "Effects of Maternal Drinking and Marijuana Use on Fetal Growth and
Development," Pediatrics 70 (1982): 539-546. P. A. Fried and J. E. Makin,
"Neonatal Behavioral Correlates of Prenatal Exposure to Marijuana,
Cigarettes and Alcohol in a Low Risk Population," Neurotoxicology and
Teratology 9 (1987): 1-7. M. D. Cornelius et al., "Prenatal Tobacco and
Marijuana Use Among Adolescents: Effects on Offspring Gestational Age,
Growth, and Morphology," Pediatrics 95 (1995): 738-743. N. Day et al.,
"Prenatal Marijuana Use and Neonatal Outcome," Neurotoxicology and
Teratology13 (1991): 329-334.

13. N. L. Day and G. A. Richardson, "Prenatal Marijuana Use: Epidemiology,
Methodologic Issues, and Infant Outcome," Clinics in Perinatology 18
(1991): 77-91. G. A. Richardson et al., "The Impact of Marijuana and
Cocaine Use on the Infant and Child," Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology 36
(1993): 302-318. M. D. Cornelius et al. (1995), see Note 12. C. D. Coles et
al., "Effects of Cocaine, Alcohol, and Other Drug Use in Pregnancy on
Neonatal Growth and Neurobehavioral Status," Neurotoxicology and Teratology
14 (1992): 22-33.

14. N. Day et al. (1991), see Note 12.

15. E. E. Hatch and M. B. Bracken (1986), see Note 12.

16. P. A. Fried et al. (1984), see Note 12.

17. K. Tennes et al. (1985), see Note 11.

18. N. L. Day et al., "Effect of Prenatal Marijuana Exposure on the
Cognitive Development of Offspring at Age Three," Neurotoxicology and
Teratology 16 (1994): 169-175.

19. A. P. Streissguth, et al., "IQ at Age 4 in Relation to Maternal Alcohol
Use and Smoking During Pregnancy," Developmental Psychology 25 (1989): 3-11.

20. See Note 18.

21. Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Legalization: Panacea or
Pandora's Box (New York, 1995). Drug Watch Oregon, Marijuana Research
Review 2 (1995): 4.

22. L. L. Robison et al., "Maternal Drug Use and Risk of Non-Lymphoblastic
Leukemia Among Offspring," Cancer 63 (1989): 1904-1911.

23. S. Grufferman et al., "Parents' Use of Cocaine and Marijuana and
Increased Risk of Rhabdomyosarcoma in Their Children," Cancer Causes and
Control 4 (1993): 217-224.

24. N. L. Day et al., "The Epidemiology of Alcohol, Marijuana and Cocaine
Use Among Women of Childbearing Age and Pregnant Women," Clinical
Obstetrics and Gynecology 36 (1993): 232-245.

25. S. Grufferman et al., "Environmental Factors in the Etiology of
Rhabdomyosarcoma in Childhood," Journal of the National Cancer Institute 68
(1982): 107-113.

26. National Toxicology Program, Toxicology and Carcinogenesis: Studies of
1-Trans-Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in F344/N Rats and B6c3F1 Mice
(Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996).

27. P. A. Fried and B. Watkinson, "12- and 24-Month Neurobehavioral
Follow-Up of Children Prenatally Exposed to Marijuana, Cigarettes and
Alcohol," Neurotoxicology and Teratology 10 (1988): 305-313.

28. P. A. Fried and B. Watkinson, "36- and 48-Month Neurobehavioral
Follow-Up of Children Prenatally Exposed to Marijuana, Cigarettes and
Alcohol," Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 11 (1990): 49-58.

29. Ibid.

30. P. A. Fried et al., "60- and 72-Month Follow-Up of Children Prenatally
Exposed to Marijuana, Cigarettes, and Alcohol: Cognitive and Language
Assessment," Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 13 (1992):

31. P. A. Fried et al., "A Follow-Up Study of Attentional Behavior in
6-Year-Old Children Exposed Prenatally to Marijuana, Cigarettes, and
Alcohol," Neurotoxicology and Teratology 14 (1992): 299-311.

32. C. M. O'Connell and P. A. Fried, "Prenatal Exposure to Cannabis: A
Preliminary Report of Postnatal Consequences in School-Age Children,"
Neurotoxicology and Teratology 13 (1991): 631-639.

33. P. A. Fried, "Prenatal Exposure to Marijuana and Tobacco During
Infancy, Early and Middle Childhood: Effects and Attempts at a Synthesis,"
Archives of Toxicology 17 (1995): 240-241.

34. P. A. Fried, "The Ottawa Prenatal Prospective Study (OPPS):
Methodological Issues and Findings-It's Easy to Throw the Baby Out With the
Bath Water," Life Sciences 56 (1995): 2159-2168.

35. National Conference on Marijuana Use: Prevention, Treatment, and
Research, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Arlington, VA:
July 1995).

36. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, "Marijuana: Its Uses and
Effects," Prevention Pipeline 8, no. 5 (1995): 3-5.

37. P. A. Fried, "Prenatal Exposure to Tobacco and Marijuana: Effects
During Pregnancy, Infancy, and Early Childhood," Clinical Obstetrics and
Gynecology 36 (1993): 319-337.

38. Ibid.

39. P. A. Fried, "Cigarettes and Marijuana: Are There Measurable Long-Term
Neurobehavioral Teratogenic Effects?" Neurotoxicology 10 (1989): 577-584.
N. Day et al., "The Effects of Prenatal Tobacco and Marijuana Use on
Offspring Growth from Birth through 3 Years of Age," Neurotoxicology and
Teratology 14 (1992): 407-414. H. M. Barr et al., "Infant Size at 8 Months
of Age: Relationship to Maternal Use of Alcohol, Nicotine, and Caffeine
During Pregnancy," Pediatrics 74 (1984): 336-341. P. A. Fried and B.
Watkinson (1990), see Note 28. A. P. Streissguth et al. (1989), see Note
19. M. D. Cornelius et al. (1995), see Note 12. J. Kline et al. (1987), see
Note 12. P. A. Fried (1995), see Note 33.

This article is excerpted from Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review
of the Scientific Evidence by Lynn Zimmer, PhD, and John P. Morgan, MD (New
York: Drug Policy Alliance, 1997). Permission to reprint this article was
granted by the Drug Policy Alliance,

Authors: Lynn Zimmer, John P. Morgan
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Women)
Related: Medical Marijuana: A Surprising Solution To Severe Morning Sickness
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Related: Marijuana Use during Pregnancy



As is the case for many young women, my indulgence in recreational drugs, including alcohol and caffeine, came to an abrupt halt when my husband and I discovered we were pregnant with our first child. To say we were ecstatic is an understatement. Doctors had told me we might never conceive, yet here we were, expecting our first miracle. I closely followed my doctor's recommendations. When I began to experience severe morning sickness, I went to him for help. He ran all of the standard tests, then sent me home with the first of many prescription medicines.

Weeks passed, and, as the nausea and vomiting increased, I began to lose weight. I was diagnosed as having hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe and constant form of morning sickness. I started researching the condition, desperately searching for a solution. I tried wristbands, herbs, yoga, pharmaceuticals, meditation-everything I could think of. Ultimately, after losing 20 pounds in middle pregnancy, and being hospitalized repeatedly for dehydration and migraines, I developed preeclampsia and was told an emergency cesarean was necessary. My dreams of a normal birth were shattered, but our baby boy, though weighing only 4 pounds 14 ounces and jaundiced from the perinatal medications I'd been given, was relatively healthy.

When, six months later, I again found myself pregnant, I was even more determined to have a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy, and sought out the care of the best perinatologist in the area. At first, I was impressed. This doctor assured me he had all the answers, and that, under his expert care, my baby and I would never experience a moment of discomfort. However, as my belly swelled, I grew more and more ill, and my faith in my dream doctor began to falter. What convinced me to change healthcare providers midstream was this doctor's honesty. He admitted that, due to constraints imposed on him by his malpractice-insurance company, some routine procedures that he knew to be harmful would be required of me. We left his office that day and never went back.

As I searched for a new doctor, I ran across information about midwifery and homebirth. At first, I thought this was simply crazy. Have a baby at home, with no doctor? No way! I thought. But, as I began examining the statistics, I discovered an unexpected pattern. In studies comparing planned home versus hospital births, planned homebirths, with a midwife in attendance, have lower rates of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Not only that, but midwives' rates of such invasive procedures as amniotomy and episiotomy are much lower. Everything I had believed about birth and medicine suddenly came into question. I located a midwife and made an appointment to see her.

We were very impressed with this woman's education and experience, and were delighted to invite her into our home to share in our second birth. She gave me many new ideas to try to abate the morning sickness, which still plagued me. But despite her best efforts with herbs, homeopathic remedies, and even chiropractic care, my illness remained intractable.

About this time, I ran into an old, dear friend from college. When Jenny came to visit me one particularly awful day, we shared stories of the old days, and I soon found myself laughing as I hadn't laughed in years. Despite being interrupted by numerous trips to worship the porcelain god, it felt wonderful to share some time with her. But when we began talking about my burgeoning belly, I broke down in sobs. I told her about how I was desperately afraid of what this malnutrition was doing to my baby. I explained how my midwife had told me that preeclampsia appears to be a nutritional disorder of pregnancy, and I didn't know how I could avoid it if I couldn't eat.

Jenny listened and cried with me. Then, she tentatively produced a joint from her jacket pocket. I was shocked. We had shared a lot of these in college, but I had no idea she still smoked. Slowly, she began telling me that she knew some women who smoked marijuana for morning sickness, and it really helped them. She hadn't known anyone with as severe a form of the illness as I had, but reasoned that if it works to quell the side effects of chemotherapy, it must work well.

Understandably, I was concerned about what kind of effect marijuana might have on my baby. The only information I had ever heard on the subject was that it was a dangerous drug that should not be used in pregnancy. We discussed for some time the possibility that it could be harmful, though neither of us had enough information to make any sort of truly informed decision. What finally convinced me to give it a try was Jenny's compelling reasoning. "Well, you know that not eating or drinking more than sips of  tea and nibbles of crackers is definitely harmful, right? You might as well give this a try and see what happens. You don't have much to lose."

She was right. I was 32 weeks along and had already lost 30 pounds. I had experienced four days of vomiting tea, broth, crackers, and toast. Nothing would stay down long. In an excited, giggly, reminiscing mood, I told her to "Fire it up!" I took two puffs of the tangy, piney smoke. As it took effect, I felt my aches and nausea finally leave me. Jenny and I reclined against my old beanbag, and I began sobbing again and unintelligibly thanking her-here was the miracle I had prayed for. A few minutes later, when I calmed down, we ordered a pizza. That was the best pizza I had ever tasted-and I kept down every bite.

It was sad that I had to discover the benefits of this medicine late in my second pregnancy, through trial and error, and not learned of them long before-from my doctors. This experience launched a much safer and more intelligent investigation into the use of cannabis during pregnancy.

I spent hour after hour poring over library books that contained references to medical marijuana and marijuana in pregnancy. Most of what I found was either a reference to the legal or political status of marijuana in medicine, or medical references that simply said that doctors discourage the use of any "recreational drug" during pregnancy. This was before I discovered the Internet, so my resources were limited. The little I could find that described the actual effects on a fetus of a mother's smoking
cannabis claimed that there was little to no detectable effect, but, as this area was relatively unstudied, it would be unethical to call it "safe." I later discovered that midwives had safely used marijuana in
pregnancy and birth for thousands of years. Old doctors' tales to the contrary, this herb was far safer than any of the pharmaceuticals prescribed for me by my doctors to treat the same condition. I confidently continued my use of marijuana, knowing that, among all options available to me, it was the safest, wisest choice.

Ten weeks after my first dose, I had gained 17 pounds over my pre-pregnant weight. I gave beautiful and joyous birth to a 9 pound, 2 ounce baby boy in the bed in which he'd been conceived. I know that using marijuana saved us both from many of the terrible dangers associated with malnutrition in
pregnancy. Soon after giving birth, I told my husband I wanted to do it again.

Not one to deny himself or his wife the pleasures of conception, my husband agreed that we would not actively try to prevent a pregnancy, and nine months after the birth of our second son, I was pregnant with our third child. This time, I had my routine down. At the first sign of nausea, I called Jenny, who brought me my medicine. In my third, fourth, and fifth pregnancies, I gained an average of 25 pounds with each child. I had healthy, pink, chubby little angels, with lusty first cries. Their weights ranged from 8 to 9 1/2 pounds. Marijuana completely transformed very dangerous pregnancies into more enjoyable, safer, and healthier gestations.

But I was caught in a catch-22. Because my providers of perinatal health care were not doctors, they had no authority to issue me a recommendation for marijuana. In addition, I chose not to tell them I used cannabis for fear they could refuse me care. Finally, even if I could get a recommendation, I knew of no compassion clubs (medical marijuana cooperatives or dispensaries) in my area. I had to take whatever my friends could find from street dealers.

Many times I would go hungry, waiting four or more days for someone in town to find marijuana. I became so desperate for relief that I would contemplate driving to a large city like New York and walking the streets until I could find something. Fortunately, each time I almost reached that point, some kind soul would show up with something to get me through. What else is a sick person supposed to do when the only medicine that helps, and is potentially life-saving for her baby, is unavailable? I would much rather go to a store and purchase a product wrapped in a package secured with the seal of the state in which I live than buy from some guy on the street.

Along the way, I discovered the benefits of using marijuana to treat other disorders. At times, I have been plagued by migraines so severe I would wind up in the emergency room. I would receive up to 250 milligrams of Demerol, and sometimes, when Demerol failed, even shots of Dilaudid. Thanks to my sporadic use of marijuana and a careful dosing regimen, I have not been to an emergency room in more than three years. [In September 1999, the Food and Drug Administration approved an application for a rigorous study designed to investigate the medical efficacy of marijuana on migraine
headaches.-Ed.] In addition, I was diagnosed as having Crohn's disease. After months of tests and treatments for my symptoms, I began using a dosing method similar to what I'd used for migraines, and I found that, once again, marijuana provided more relief than anything else. All in all, I've been prescribed more than 30 truly dangerous drugs, yet the only one that has provided relief without the associated risks is one many doctors won't even discuss, much less recommend.

My history with medicine and with marijuana has been more extensive than average. It is my sincere belief that if the American public were told the truth about marijuana, they could not help but support an immediate end to cannabis prohibition. Even I believed it was dangerous, until I began researching the issue. What I discovered is that not one person has ever died from smoking marijuana. The same cannot be said for the results of the misuse of some of our most commonly used substances, such as caffeine, aspirin, or vitamin A. In addition, marijuana is no more a "gateway drug" to other substances than is caffeine or alcohol. Most kids try these things long before they experiment with cannabis. And, finally, unlike such legal drugs as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, marijuana is not addictive. As with Twinkies or sex, a user can come to psychologically depend on marijuana's mood-altering effects; however, no physical addiction is associated with cannabis.

Now I find myself mother to five beautiful, intelligent, creative children for whom I would lay down my life in an instant. I have been blessed with the challenge of helping them grow into responsible, hardworking, and loving adults. I have also been blessed with the challenge of protecting them from a world fraught with dangers. There are those who would have me believe that, in order to protect my children from drug abuse, I must lie to them; that I must tell them that marijuana is dangerous, with no
redeeming qualities. Some say I should go so far as to tell them that it couldn't possibly be used as a medicine. Then there are those who would say that if I ever find out that my child has experimented with marijuana, I should turn her over to expert authorities in order to impart a lesson. While this does send a message to the child, it is not the message I want to send.

What I teach my children, ages nine and under, about drugs is that medicine comes in many forms, and that children should never touch any medicine (categorized broadly as a pill, liquid, herb, or even caffeinated beverage) unless it is given to them by a trusted adult. My cabinets are full of herbs, such as red raspberry leaves and rosemary, which I use in cooking and as medicines. I have things such as comfrey, which I use externally, that could be dangerous if taken internally. Like all responsible parents, my husband and I keep all medicines, cleaning products, and age-inappropriate items, such as small buttons, out of the reach of our kids and safely locked away.

However, I am aware that the day may come when my kids figure out the trick to the lock, so I add an extra measure of safety by educating them about the honest dangers of using medicines that are not needed. In addition, by sharing my views about the politics behind the issues, I am teaching them another, equally important lesson. As Santa Clara University School of Law Professor Gerald Uelmen stated last year at the medical marijuana giveaway at the City Hall in Santa Cruz, California, "We are teaching our children compassion for the sick and dying; only a twisted and perverted federal bureaucrat could call that the wrong message."

I have also tried to impart a deep respect for natural healing. By using cool compresses and acupressure for headaches before grabbing a pharmaceutical such as acetaminophen, I've taught them the importance of avoiding dependence on drugs. I have also shown them the benefits of the wise and careful use of pharmaceuticals by using them when they were my best choice. I try to instill in them a sense of reason and resourcefulness by honestly presenting the answers to their questions and admitting what I do not know, but searching until I find the answer.

When our oldest child overheard my husband and me discussing marijuana prohibition, it opened up a wonderful line of communication about the subject. I gave him a very basic explanation: that marijuana is a plant that can be used as a medicine. I explained that it could be overused and abused, as well. Then I told him that this plant is illegal, and that people who are found to possess marijuana can go to jail. The question I found myself floundering to answer, however, was when he asked, "Why would the police put someone in jail for using medicine?" It is long past time parents stood up and took notice of the abuses being leveled on our children by well-intentioned but misinformed governing officials. We need honest and responsible drug education that treats children as intelligent pre-adults who are learning how to live full and healthy lives in a dangerous world.

They need every shred of information we can give them, so that they do not choose to huff butane or snort heroin simply because they survived smoking the joint we told them was dangerous, and because they therefore assume we must be lying about the rest. We need to provide an open line of communication so that, if they ever have to face areas of ambiguity or situations we have neglected to discuss, they will feel comfortable coming to us, and not friends or the Internet, to advise them when they need it most. In order to do this, we must first educate ourselves.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Bolton, Sanford, PhD, and Gary Null, MS. "Caffeine:
Psychological Effects, Use and Abuse." Orthomolecular Psychiatry 10, no. 3
(Third Quarter 1981): 202--211.

Campbell, Fiona A., et al. "Are Cannabinoids an Effective and Safe
Treatment Option in the Management of Pain? A Qualitative Systematic
Review." British Medical Journal 323, no. 7303 (7 July 2001): 13--16.

Conrad, Chris. Hemp for Health. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1997.

Department of Health, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Rota.
"The Safety of Home Birth: The Farm Study." American Journal of Public
Health 82, no. 3 (March 1992): 450--453.

Duran, AM. Dreher, Melanie C., PhD, et al. "Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and
Neonatal Outcomes in Jamaica: An Ethnographic Study." Pediatrics 93, no. 2
(February 1994): 254--260.

Grinspoon, Lester, MD, and James B. Bakalar. Marihuana: The Forbidden
Medicine, rev ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997.

Hall, W., et al. The Health and Psychological Consequences of Cannabis Use.
National Drug Strategy Monograph Series 25. Canberra: Australian Government
Publishing Service, 1994.

House of Lords, Select Committee on Science and Technology. "Cannabis-The
Scientific and Medical Evidence." London, England: The Stationery Office,
Parliament (1998). Cited in Iversen, Leslie L., PhD, FRS. The Science of
Marijuana. London, England: Oxford University Press, 2000: 178.

Joy, Janet E., et al. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base.
Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine,
National Academy of Sciences. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 1999.

Munch, S. "Women's Experiences with a Pregnancy Complication: Causal
Explanations of Hyperemesis Gravidarum." Social Work and Health Care 36,
no. 1 (2002): 59--76.

Nettis, E., et al. "Update on Sensitivity to Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory
Drugs." Current Drug Targets: Immune, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders 1,
no. 3 (November 2001): 233--240.

Randall, Robert C., and Alice M. O'Leary. Marijuana Rx: The Patients' Fight
for Medicinal Pot. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1998.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, US Dept. of
Health and Human Services. National Household Survey on Drug Abuse 2000.
Washington, DC: SAMHSA, 2001.

Tramer, M. R., et al. "Cannabinoids for Control of Chemotherapy Induced
Nausea and Vomiting: A Quantitative Systematic Review." British Medical
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of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition." Docket 86-22 (6 September 1988): 57.

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Ch. 3, "Vitamin Deficiency, Dependency and Toxicity."

Woodcock, H. C., et al. "A Matched Cohort Study of Planned Home and
Hospital Births in Western Australia 1981--1987." Midwifery 10, no. 3
(September 1994): 125--135.

Zimmer, Lynn, PhD, and John P. Morgan, MD. Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts:
A Review of the Scientific Evidence. New York: The Lindesmith Center, 1997.

Zimmerman, Bill, PhD, et al. Is Marijuana the Right Medicine for You? New
Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1998.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Americans for Safe Access:
Coalition for Medical Marijuana: Drug War Facts: Marijuana Policy Project:

For more information about nausea or marijuana, see the following articles
in past issues of Mothering: "Nausea During Pregnancy" no. 52; "Marijuana
in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding," no.42; and "Coping With Nausea in
Pregnancy," no. 30.

Pubdate: Sun, 01 May 2005
Source: Mothering (US)
Section: Issue 124, May/June 2004
Copyright: 2005 Mothering Magazine
Author: Erin Hildebrandt
Note: Erin Hildebrandt is a writer, an activist, and a happily married,
suburban mother of five. Her website is at
Bookmark: (Women)

Pubdate: Wed, 02 Nov 2005
Source: Goldstream Gazette (CN BC)
Author: Mark Browne

Some people might be shocked at the idea of pregnant women smoking marijuana to deal with the nausea that comes with pregnancy.

But a UK-based medical publication, Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, has taken the idea seriously and published a study conducted by the Vancouver Island Compassion Society on the topic.

The Victoria-based society, which provides medicinal marijuana to people suffering from various illnesses, recently completed the study that examines the therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis for nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy. The study argues that marijuana is an effective method to deal with nausea and vomiting with pregnant women.

"It's an area that without a doubt is going to be a bit more controversial as an area of research," said Phillipe Lucas, director of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall said that marijuana likely is an effective treatment for dealing with nausea and vomiting with pregnant women.

"But I don't think I'd recommend smoking marijuana in pregnancy," he said.

There are concerns among some in the medical profession that marijuana could cause difficulty in terms of the development of the baby's brain, Kendall said. As well, it's possible that a low birth weight could result from a pregnant woman smoking the substances found in marijuana leaves, he said.

"So I wouldn't recommend smoking anything during pregnancy," Kendall said. Lucas conducted the research with B.C. Compassion Club Society researcher Rielle Capler, University of B.C. professor Patricia A. Janssen and University of Victoria sociologist Rachel Westfall.

The study was prompted by a request from Westfall who approached the Vancouver Island Compassion Society to find out how she could gain access to cannabis to conduct a study on how it might address nausea with pregnant women, Lucas said.

"I knew right away that, that was simply going to be an impossibility," he said.

There's no way, Lucas said, that the federal government would allow a clinical trial on determining if marijuana could effectively treat nausea and vomiting with pregnant women.

That said, Lucas decided to move forward with a survey/study to determine if women who smoked marijuana while they were pregnant found that it dealt with the nausea and vomiting.

The survey shows that 92 per cent of respondents considered marijuana to be either "extremely effective" or "effective" as a therapy for nausea and vomiting (or morning sickness).

The study also focused on a particularly severe form of nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy called hyperenesisgragidarum.

"It's characterized as extremely severe nausea that affects two per cent of women who go through pregnancy," Lucas said.

As it currently stands, there aren't any effective pharmaceutical treatments available to treat that condition, he said.

The study also focused on how effective marijuana is in treating nausea in general. The vast majority of respondents indicated that marijuana is an effective therapy for nausea (93 per cent), vomiting (75 per cent) and as an appetite stimulant (95 per cent).

At the same time, the suggestion that marijuana is an effective treatment for nausea is apparent from talking to clients at the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, Lucas said.

"It's something that we see everyday."

Pubdate: Fri, 07 Oct 2005
Source: Esquimalt News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Esquimalt News
Author: Mark Browne
Bookmark: (Vancouver Island Compassion Society)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)

“Cannabis Treatments in Obstetrics and Gynecology: A Historical Review” by Ethan Russo MD. Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics 2(3/4) 2002 www.freedomtoexhalecom/russo-ob.pdf  

Health Aspects of Cannabis Dr. Leo Hollister
Pregnancy and Fetal Development

This is another area of great uncertainty about the meaning of data. Virtually every drug that has been studied for dysmorphogenic effects has been found to have them if the doses were high enough, if enough species are tested, or if the treatment is prolonged. The placenta is not a barrier to the passage of most drugs, so the assumption should be made that they will reach the fetus if taken during pregnancy (3).

This assumption is well validated for THC, based on autoradiographic studies (87). A high incidence of stunting of fetuses was seen in mice treated on day 6 of pregnancy with a single i.p. dose of 16 mg of cannabis resin per kg. No reduction in litter size or apparent malformations were seen.

When the same dose was given repeatedly from days 1 to 6 of pregnancy. Fetal resorption was complete (133).

Treatment of mice from days 6 to 15 of gestation with THC doses of 5, 15, 50, and 150 mg/kg had no effect on fetal weight, prenatal mortality rate, and frequency of gross external, internal, or skeletal abnormalities (50).

It is still good practice in areas of ignorance, such as the effects of drugs on fetal development, to be prudent. While no definite clinical association has yet been made between cannabis use during pregnancy and fetal abnormalities, such events are likely to be rare at best and could be easily missed. The belated recognition of the harmful effects on the fetus of smoking tobacco and drinking alcoholic beverages indicates that some caution with cannabis is wise.

Endocrine and Metabolic Effects

Changes in male sex hormones have been a source of controversy ever since the first report of a cannabinoid­induced decrease in serum testosterone level. Decreased levels were associated with morphological abnormalities in sperm and with decreased sexual functioning (100). Such changes must require long­term exposure to cannabis, for subchronic studies in experimental subjects have generally failed to confirm these findings (118). During the first 4 weeks of a chronic administration study, no major changes in hormone levels were detected, but with subsequent exposure a decrease first occurred in luteinizing hormone (LH) followed by decreases in testosterone and follicle­stimulating hormone (FSH) (99). Testosterone synthesis by Leydig cells was decreased in rats, both by THC as well as by other cannabinoids (21). A similar finding had been reported earlier (57). A review of the literature on this subject concluded that no significant effect was found in regard to serum testosterone and that sperm production was decreased but without evidence of infertility. Ovulation was inhibited, and luteinizing hormone was decreased. Cannabinoids had no evidence of estrogenic activity, which had been postulated earlier (4).

The meaning of such changes in man is uncertain, as the hormone levels generally remained within the accepted limits of normal. Further, a single hormone level may not be truly representative of the prevailing levels of hormones that tend to be secreted episodically or which are subject to many extraneous influences.

Data on the effects of cannabis on the female reproductive system are sparse. Preliminary unpublished data indicate that women who use cannabis 4 times a week or more have more anovulatory menstrual cycles than do nonusers of the same age, Animal work tends to support this observation. THC administered to rats suppressed the cyclic surge of LH secretion and of ovulation (11).

Gynecomastia has been thought to be a complication of cannabis use, especially when it was also possible to stimulate breast tissue development in rats with THC (72). Eleven soldiers with gynecomastia of unknown cause were matched with 11 others with similar characteristics except for gynecomastia. No difference in cannabis use was found between the two groups (27). Such a finding does not disprove the relationship between cannabis and gynecomastia. Indeed, if cannabis increases peripheral conversion of testosterone to estrogens, then it is possible that the increased estrogens could stimulate breast tissue in a few susceptible men. Increased estrogens

might also account for some reports of diminution in sexual drive or in performance in men.

These endocrine changes may be of relatively little consequence in adults, but they could be of major importance in the prepubertal male who may use cannabis. At least one instance of pubertal arrest has been documented. A 16­year­old boy who had smoked marijuana since age 11 had short stature, no pubic hair, small testes and penis and low serum testosterone. After stopping smoking, growth resumed and serum testosterone reached the normal range (41). As recent surveys of cannabis use indicate that some boys (and girls) may be exposed to it even as early as the prepubertal years, this question is of more than academic interest.

Although cannabis has been said in the past to cause hypoglycemia, this error has been pointed out in numerous studies. On the contrary, some subjects showed impaired glucose tolerance following experimentally administered i.v. doses of 6 mg of THC. Such a dose is probably greater than one generally attains from usual cigarettes but might be obtained from high­grade hashish. The deterioration of glucose tolerance was accomplished by increased levels of plasma growth hormone, as well as by a normal plasma insulin response. these findings suggested that growth hormone might be interfering with the action of insulin (83). A study in rabbits indicated that blood glucose was increased by single doses of THC but that this increase could be prevented by adrenalectomy. Increased release of epinephrine following THC was postulated as a possible cause for the hyperglycemia (70). Although large doses of THC might aggravate diabetes, the rarity of this phenomenon in clinical practice may be due to the lower doses of THC used socially or the development of tolerance to this specific pharmacological effect.

EMAIL  Kay Lee