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pregnant women with a marijuana joint in hand

The University of Denver is conducting a study into the effects of marijuana usage on pregnant mothers. According to Pilyoung Kim, a professor of Psychology at the university, one recurring question she has received from expecting mothers has surpassed all the rest: Is it alright to smoke marijuana while pregnant? 

Pregnancy comes with many symptoms, including nausea and morning sickness. Medical marijuana is often prescribed to chemotherapy patients undergoing similar symptoms. It’s understandable why so many pregnant mothers have chosen to self-medicate with the drug. However, the effects of marijuana on a developing fetus have been heretofore unknown. 

Do Pregnant Women Really Smoke Marijuana?

Colorado marijuana sales have undoubtedly risen as a result of pregnant mothers. The number of pregnant women who have admitted to smoking marijuana may shock you. According to the CDC, roughly 16% of pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 44 regularly use cannabis. This has been called into question by anti-marijuana advocacy groups, such as Smart Approaches to Marijuana. Their chief of staff, Luke Niforatos, said in an interview with Denver’s Fox News that “There are a lot of very scientifically validated studies that indicate that it’s very dangerous to use marijuana during pregnancy.” However, he failed to name any of them. In a more objective statement, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stated that “there’s no known safe amount of marijuana use during pregnancy. 

However, what is misleading about these statements is that so far, there is no unsafe amount of marijuana usage known for pregnant mothers either. The problem with condemning marijuana usage outright for pregnant mothers is that there is little to no data available to substantiate said condemnations. With her study, Kim hopes to change that. 

Pilyoung Kim’s Study 

Kim’s study is fairly simple in premise. After acquiring funding from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Kim set about preparing her experiment. She and her colleagues decided to monitor two separate groups of pregnant mothers – one group that smoked cannabis regularly, and one that abstained from the drug entirely. As of now, she is one year into her study. Besides monitoring the health and physiology of both the mother and fetus during pregnancy, both the baby and mother will also be subjected to MRIs after the birth. Hopefully, this will shed light on the neurological effects that marijuana might have on a developing infant. 

The Effects of Marijuana 

As is, it is relatively understandable that so many groups will condemn pregnant mothers who use marijuana. Marijuana has been recorded to have detrimental effects on one’s neurology. In the 70s, a New Zealand study followed the longitudinal effects of marijuana use on teen minds over the course of more than a decade, and found that continued use of the drug could be responsible for a lessened IQ. While worrisome, IQ tests are nowadays considered a flawed method of gauging intelligence, so the relevance of this study may be inconsequential. 

Overall, we can only wait for the results of Kim’s study, which will hopefully shed some light on the subject. In the meantime, both pregnant mother and outraged citizens will be anxiously awaiting results.