Given the current legal landscape and limited research into the medical benefits of cannabis, many are turning to anecdotal evidence and speaking with others (medical professionals or otherwise) to form their own opinions. At the time of this report, both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend avoiding cannabis use at all costs during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, citing concerns regarding the potential adverse effects of marijuana and a lack of evidence regarding how usage could negatively impact a developing fetus or infant.
Additionally, while there is a significant need for more research to be conducted into pregnancy-specific safety, despite its legality in some states, pregnant women who use cannabis or cannabis-infused products can still be subject to child welfare investigations if they screen positive for THC. The 2010 Child Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Act requires that health care providers are mandated to report instances where newborns and other children are exposed to illicit substances under the definition of child abuse and/or neglect in all states. Given marijuana's current status as a Schedule 1 substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, it is important for all health care providers to speak with their patients about the specific reporting requirements in their state and the potential legal consequences. Due to cannabis's current federal status as an illicit substance, the chances of getting a proper study approved involving putting pregnant women potentially at risk are virtually slim to none.
The choice to partake in or abstain from cannabis usage remains entirely up to the individual, with many voicing valid concerns that we simply don't know enough about the potential negative implications to proceed without hesitation. However, some expectant mothers are increasingly opening up to utilizing CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, during their pregnancies. Because there is also a lack of evidence regarding how CBD can specifically impact pregnancy, experts recommend avoiding these products as well. CBD can potentially aid in relieving nausea, morning sickness, pain, anxiety, insomnia and postpartum depression, making it particularly appealing to pregnant women who are interested in the healing benefits of the plant, but not the psychoactive effects of THC. Despite the promise of CBD helping aid in a variety of ailments commonly associated with pregnancy, experts still cannot explicitly recommend usage due to the lack of in-depth studies. In the interim, there are a plethora of online forums and parenting blogs dedicated to providing resources, anecdotal narratives and a platform to openly ask questions without fear of any societal backlash for parents interested in utilizing cannabis.
While more research is needed so that science can catch up to the shifting legality of the plant and users can make well-informed decisions, medical professionals remain understandably cautious when giving recommendations to their pregnant and breastfeeding patients. Due to insufficient data needed to evaluate the effects of marijuana usage on pregnant patients and the effects on infants during breastfeeding, marijuana usage remains discouraged despite its popularity and growing legality. However, it is important to keep in mind that the absence of data does not mean that pregnancy and cannabis definitively should never mix. Instead, further research is required to be able to draw conclusions and help guide patient choices before, during, and after pregnancy when it comes to THC and CBD.