Marijuana in Pregnancy (and in general)

Some interesting research has come up recently regarding Marijuana and pregnancy.  Although marijuana (also known as ‘pot’ or ‘weed’) is  considered a ‘soft drug’, as opposed to things like heroin or cocaine, it does have problems of its own. Weight gain, poor memory, and breathing issues are among the main concerns.  There are questions about whether marijuana increases the risk of lung cancer.  There are also problems surrounding the fact that marijuana is illegal.  You go to jail for possession – there has been a recent change to Canadian federal legislation requiring mandatory minimum sentencing for all drug related crimes.

Another problem with marijuana being illegal is that the production is not regulated.  That means that dealers can, and do, put all kinds of drugs into marijuana.  I have even read about formaldehyde being use.  This is a poison.  Unfortunately, it can give a high similar to marijuana, so dealers sometimes put it in if the marijuana is not sufficiently strong for their customers.  I have read about dealers combining marijuana with PCP, among other drugs.  In my practice, I have found that marijuana frequently has traces of cocaine or benzos in it.  This may be intentional lacing from the dealers, but it can also be from cutting the various drugs on the same table, or using the same uncleaned scales for all the drugs they deal.  In any case, a lot of the available marijuana is not clean.

Marijuana has also been shown to cause an increased risk of developing schizophrenia in youth who are predisposed to developing it.  Unfortunately it is hard to find out who is predisposed.  That means that a youth who uses marijuana may develop schizophrenia only if they use it, and not otherwise.  This is quite serious.  It is not reversible.  Also, some research suggests that marijuana use can actually shrink the brain.  It may be important to tell your children this.

Recent research is showing that marijuana has further issues if taken during pregnancy.

“Most additional concerns about THC come from the mental health literature, because of the now well-documented link between THC and psychosis — we do have concerns (by extrapolation of these mental health data) about THC and the fetal brain,” he said.  The study is published in the July 2012 issue of PLoS One.  (Taken from Medscape News, Psychiatry July 30, 2012).

“Regarding [tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana], this study provides yet another warning about changing your lifestyle months and months before you try to conceive,” principal investigator Gustaaf A. Dekker, MD, PhD, with the University of Adelaide, in South Australia, told Medscape Medical News.  According to Dr. Dekker, this is the first time THC has been linked to premature birth. (Taken from Medscape News, Psychiatry July 30, 2012).

Of course, all of the concerns that I mentioned above apply to pregnancy as well.  That means formaldehyde or PCP in your marijuana may be getting to your fetus, which can have further effects on your child.

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