The truth about marijuana and pregnancy

January 27, 2020

Marijuana is a hot topic in news across the nation these days. In some states, it’s legal to use marijuana. In other states, it’s illegal. And in some states, it’s legal to use marijuana only when recommended by a health care provider to treat some illnesses (called medical or medicinal marijuana). But no amount of marijuana has been proven safe to use during pregnancy. In fact, using marijuana during pregnancy may cause problems for your baby before and after birth.

Marijuana (also called pot, weed, dope and cannabis) is the dried flowers and leaves of a plant called Cannabis sativa. Marijuana has a chemical in it called tetrahydrocannabinol (also called THC). When marijuana is smoked or eaten, the THC in it can affect how your brain works and make it hard to think clearly. Other chemicals in marijuana affect different organs in the body, including the brain, lungs, blood vessels, heart and liver. 

Medical marijuana is legal in some states to treat health conditions like cancer, HIVmultiple sclerosis, or severe pain or nausea (feeling sick to your stomach). But the Food and Drug Administration (also called FDA) has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective medicine for any health condition. The FDA is a government agency that helps protect the health of Americans by making sure that products like food, medicine and cosmetics, are safe.

Can marijuana be used to treat morning sickness?

Even if marijuana is legal where you live for either personal or medical use, it’s not safe to use any amount of marijuana during pregnancy, even to treat morning sickness. Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that happens during pregnancy, usually in the first few months.

Don’t use marijuana to help with morning sickness. Talk to your provider about  treatments that are safer for you and  your baby. 

What problems can marijuana use cause for 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 the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.

We need more research to find out how marijuana may affect you and your baby during pregnancy. Women who use marijuana may smoke cigarettesdrink 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 before 37 weeks of pregnancy. 
  • Low birthweight. This is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.
  • Stillbirth. This is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.   
  • Problems with brain development. Babies whose mothers used marijuana during pregnancy also may have learning and behavior problems later in life.

If you use marijuana, talk to your health care provider. Your provider can help you get treatment to quit. Use the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator or call (800) 662-4357.

Learn more about marijuana and pregnancy.