Marijuana and pregnancy

Marijuana (also called pot, weed and cannabis) is a drug that comes from the dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds of the hemp plant. Marijuana is the most commonly used street drug during pregnancy. Marijuana is illegal in many states. But in some states, it’s legal to use and treat some illnesses (called medical or medicinal marijuana).

Here are the top things you need to know about marijuana and pregnancy:

  • No amount of marijuana has been proven safe to use during pregnancy. 
  • Using marijuana during pregnancy or breastfeeding may increase your baby's risk of having problems with brain development. 
  • Talk to your health care provider if you need help to quit using marijuana or any other street drug.

Marijuana has a chemical in it called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (also called THC). This chemical can affect how your brain works and make it hard to think clearly. THC and other chemicals in marijuana may change your sense of sight, sound and touch. 

How can using marijuana during pregnancy affect your baby?  

When you use marijuana during pregnancy, THC and other chemicals may pass through the placenta to your baby. The placenta grows in your uterus (womb) and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. 

More research is needed to understand how marijuana may affect you and your baby during pregnancy. Women who use marijuana may smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use other street drugs, making it hard to know exactly how marijuana affects pregnancy. Some studies suggest that if you use marijuana during pregnancy, your baby may have problems, including:

  • Premature birth. This is birth that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. 
  • Low birthweight. This is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Your baby also may have short body length or small head size.
  • Stillbirth. This is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If you smoke marijuana during pregnancy, you’re about twice as likely to have a stillbirth.
  • Withdrawal symptoms, like tremors (shakes) or long periods of crying after birth. These symptoms usually go away within a few days after birth.
  • Problems with brain development, which may affect  your baby’s behavior, memory, problem-solving skills and ability to pay attention later in life 

How does using marijuana affect breastfeeding?

You may pass THC and other chemicals from marijuana to your baby through breast milk. If you breastfeed your baby and smoke marijuana, your baby may be at increased risk for problems with brain development. Marijuana also may affect the amount and quality of breast milk you make. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding moms stay away from marijuana to help keep breast milk safe and healthy.

How is marijuana used?

Marijuana often is smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (also called joints), cigars (also called blunts) or in pipes. It’s sometimes used with a vaporizer that allows users to inhale it (breathe in) without the smoke. Some people mix marijuana with food, like brownies, cookies or candy. Some use a method called dabbing or dabs. Dabbing is when users smoke sticky products called extracts or resins that are made from the hemp plant. These extracts contain high amounts of THC. When you smoke them, you get a stronger high than from smoking hemp leaves. 

There are forms of marijuana extracts: 

  1. Hash oil or honey oil. These are both gooey liquids.

  2. Wax or budder, a soft solid like lip balm

  3. Shatter, a hard, yellow-brown solid. It’s called shatter because it looks like glass and shatters when you scrape it. 

Making marijuana extracts is dangerous because you have to use butane (lighter fluid). Using butane can cause fires, explosions and severe burns.

How is marijuana used as medicine?

Research is still being done to test the safety and usefulness of marijuana as medicine to treat certain medical conditions, including:

  • Cancer
  • HIV
  • Inflammation (redness, pain and swelling)
  • Mental illness
  • Multiple sclerosis (also called MS)
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Seizures

Some women may use marijuana to treat morning sickness. But no amount of marijuana has been proven safe to use during pregnancy. If you’re thinking of using marijuana to help with morning sickness, talk to your provider about other treatments that may be less harmful to your baby.

What problems can using marijuana before pregnancy cause?

Before pregnancy, using marijuana can affect your fertility and make it hard for you to get pregnant. Marijuana can affect:

  • Hormones that your body needs to get pregnant. Hormones are chemicals made by the body.
  • Your menstrual cycle. This is the process of your ovaries releasing an egg every month.
  • A man’s sperm count (the number of sperm he makes). A man’s sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg to begin a pregnancy. 

Can using marijuana harm your general health?

Yes. The more marijuana you use, the more likely you are to have problems, including:

  • Very fast heart rate
  • Lung problems, including  bronchitis and chronic cough (like a smoker’s cough)
  • Trouble paying attention or thinking clearly
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Clumsiness and poor coordination and balance

How can you get help to quit using marijuana?

Talk to your health care provider. He can help you get treatment to quit. Or contact: 

More information


Last reviewed: January, 2016

Marijuana (also called pot, weed and cannabis) is a drug that comes from the dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds of the hemp plant. Marijuana is the most commonly used street drug during pregnancy. Marijuana is illegal in many states. But in some states, it’s legal to use and treat some illnesses (called medical or medicinal marijuana).

Here are the top things you need to know about marijuana and pregnancy:

  • No amount of marijuana has been proven safe to use during pregnancy. 
  • Using marijuana during pregnancy or breastfeeding may increase your baby's risk of having problems with brain development. 
  • Talk to your health care provider if you need help to quit using marijuana or any other street drug.

Marijuana has a chemical in it called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (also called THC). This chemical can affect how your brain works and make it hard to think clearly. THC and other chemicals in marijuana may change your sense of sight, sound and touch. 

How can using marijuana during pregnancy affect your baby?  

When you use marijuana during pregnancy, THC and other chemicals may pass through the placenta to your baby. The placenta grows in your uterus (womb) and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. 

More research is needed to understand how marijuana may affect you and your baby during pregnancy. Women who use marijuana may smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use other street drugs, making it hard to know exactly how marijuana affects pregnancy. Some studies suggest that if you use marijuana during pregnancy, your baby may have problems, including:

  • Premature birth. This is birth that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. 
  • Low birthweight. This is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Your baby also may have short body length or small head size.
  • Stillbirth. This is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If you smoke marijuana during pregnancy, you’re about twice as likely to have a stillbirth.
  • Withdrawal symptoms, like tremors (shakes) or long periods of crying after birth. These symptoms usually go away within a few days after birth.
  • Problems with brain development, which may affect  your baby’s behavior, memory, problem-solving skills and ability to pay attention later in life 

How does using marijuana affect breastfeeding?

You may pass THC and other chemicals from marijuana to your baby through breast milk. If you breastfeed your baby and smoke marijuana, your baby may be at increased risk for problems with brain development. Marijuana also may affect the amount and quality of breast milk you make. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding moms stay away from marijuana to help keep breast milk safe and healthy.

How is marijuana used?

Marijuana often is smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (also called joints), cigars (also called blunts) or in pipes. It’s sometimes used with a vaporizer that allows users to inhale it (breathe in) without the smoke. Some people mix marijuana with food, like brownies, cookies or candy. Some use a method called dabbing or dabs. Dabbing is when users smoke sticky products called extracts or resins that are made from the hemp plant. These extracts contain high amounts of THC. When you smoke them, you get a stronger high than from smoking hemp leaves. 

There are forms of marijuana extracts: 

  1. Hash oil or honey oil. These are both gooey liquids.

  2. Wax or budder, a soft solid like lip balm

  3. Shatter, a hard, yellow-brown solid. It’s called shatter because it looks like glass and shatters when you scrape it. 

Making marijuana extracts is dangerous because you have to use butane (lighter fluid). Using butane can cause fires, explosions and severe burns.

How is marijuana used as medicine?

Research is still being done to test the safety and usefulness of marijuana as medicine to treat certain medical conditions, including:

  • Cancer
  • HIV
  • Inflammation (redness, pain and swelling)
  • Mental illness
  • Multiple sclerosis (also called MS)
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Seizures

Some women may use marijuana to treat morning sickness. But no amount of marijuana has been proven safe to use during pregnancy. If you’re thinking of using marijuana to help with morning sickness, talk to your provider about other treatments that may be less harmful to your baby.

What problems can using marijuana before pregnancy cause?

Before pregnancy, using marijuana can affect your fertility and make it hard for you to get pregnant. Marijuana can affect:

  • Hormones that your body needs to get pregnant. Hormones are chemicals made by the body.
  • Your menstrual cycle. This is the process of your ovaries releasing an egg every month.
  • A man’s sperm count (the number of sperm he makes). A man’s sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg to begin a pregnancy. 

Can using marijuana harm your general health?

Yes. The more marijuana you use, the more likely you are to have problems, including:

  • Very fast heart rate
  • Lung problems, including  bronchitis and chronic cough (like a smoker’s cough)
  • Trouble paying attention or thinking clearly
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Clumsiness and poor coordination and balance

How can you get help to quit using marijuana?

Talk to your health care provider. He can help you get treatment to quit. Or contact: 

More information


Last reviewed: January, 2016