Are women being advised to use cannabis to treat morning sickness?

Are women being advised to use cannabis to treat morning sickness?

A new study from Denver Health in the US has found that 69% of dispensaries advised a researcher posing as a pregnant woman to use cannabis (marijuana) to treat morning sickness.

The study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, also found that less than a third of dispensary employees encouraged the researcher to talk to her doctor first before trying cannabis.

Torri Metz, lead author on the study, primatologist at Denver Health and assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, US, said she was surprised by the study findings.

Affecting foetus development

Metz recommended that women refrain from cannabis use during pregnancy because of concerns it may have adverse effects on the developing foetus.

She explained: “Babies exposed to marijuana in utero are at increased risk of admission to neonatal intensive care units. There are also concerns about possible long-term effects on the developing brain, impacting cognitive function and decreasing academic ability later in childhood.”

What the dispensaries said

For the study, 400 dispensaries across Colorado, US, were researched, with the caller stating she was eight weeks pregnant, experiencing morning sickness and wanted advice about cannabis product use.

Of the 400 dispensaries contacted:

  • 37% were licensed for medical sales;
  • 28% for retail sales; and
  • 35% for both.

Over half (67%) recommended using cannabis products to treat morning sickness, with frequency of recommendations differing by licence type:

  • Medical – 83%;
  • Retail – 60%; and
  • Both – 61%.

Personal opinion

According to the study, the majority of dispensaries (65%) based their recommendation for cannabis use during pregnancy on ‘personal opinion’.

Metz said that women should combat the nausea and vomiting in pregnancy with medications prescribed by a physician and not use cannabis.

She added: “First-line medical therapy for treatment of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is vitamin B6 and doxylamine. This combination has been studied extensively and there is no concern for foetal harm.”

Press Release: Denver Health


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