How Marijuana Use Affects Your Pregnancy And Fertility

In November 2020, Gallup released a new poll that shows that the support for legalization of Marijuana reached a new all-time high (pun not intended) in the US of a whopping 68%. Positive public sentiment has not only seen a massive uptick since 1972, when Gallup first started polling on legalization, but the increase has been across all major subgroups of gender, race, political leaning and economic station.

Here in New Jersey, we just legalized recreational cannabis use for those adults over 21 of six ounces or less. Many states, economists and news outlets are touting that the industry will greatly impact our economy for the better. In fact, a recent story in Forbes this year compared the economic potential impact of the cannabis industry in the US, to the ending prohibition and how it got us out of the Great Depression. Data shows that the “total combined legal sales of medical and adult-use cannabis in the U.S. are projected to reach $35 billion by 2025.” 1 Wow! That’s a lot of dough.

With the usage, the economic impact, and public confidence surging – it’s vitally important in our industry to look at how the use of Marijuana could potentially impact your fertility and your pregnancy.

Using Marijuana While Pregnant

Millennials are the dominant age group of purchasers of cannabis in 2020 – with 48% of the recreational purchases and 42% of the medicinal sales attributed to the millennial generation2. This includes women in their most fertile years that are actively considering pregnancy or are indeed pregnant now. In 2019, JAMA (the journal of the American Medical Association) reported that pregnant women use marijuana more than any other illicit drug.

This national survey on drug use and health analyzed data from women between the ages of 12 – 44, 4400 of whom were pregnant and 133,900 who were not known to be pregnant. The report found that overall usage by pregnant women has more than doubled from 3.4% in 2002 to 7% in 2017. Respondents, who were pregnant, and admitted to usage in the “past month” while in their first trimester, had also jumped 112% from 5.7% to 12.1%. That’s huge!

The study also showed that usage of medical marijuana was higher in the first trimester versus the second or third trimesters, which may be from the belief marketed by sellers that it prevents nausea and vomiting. We caution you, there is no credible science to back up this claim. In the absence of further studies, your best bet is to talk to your doctors if you are experiencing morning sickness. Lifestyle and diet changes, as well as, other alternative therapies that don’t potentially risk your pregnancy and baby can help.

Marijuana And Its Effects On Your Baby

The American College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (ACOG), The National Institutes of Health, the CDC and the Surgeon General all caution against using Marijuana while pregnant or if you are considering having children in the near future.

The reasoning for their caution:

  1. Increased Psychopathology In Children
    In September 2020, JAMA Psychiatry (Journal American Medical Association) released a robust study of 11,489 children around the age of 9, split evenly by gender, and from 22 different states. Of these children, 655 were identified to have been prenatally exposed to cannabis. They found that “prenatal cannabis exposure after maternal knowledge of pregnancy was associated with greater psychopathology during middle childhood, even after accounting for potentially confounding variables.” 3 These issues included more likelihood of having attention, sleep and social problems, as well as, potentially diminished cognitive abilities.

  2. Marijuana Can Lead To Low Birth Weight
    There are many studies that show that cannabis use may lead to the possibility of low birth weight in newborns4, which in turn may cause a slew of complications ranging from the inability to fight off infection, digestive and nervous system issues and even blindness or deafness.
    In 2018, The Journal of Pediatrics published one such study by The Colorado Pregnancy Rick Assessment Monitoring System showing that there was a 50% increased risk of low birth weight with maternal marijuana use regardless of one’s age, ethnicity, race, education and even tobacco use.

  3. Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes Due To THC
    Studies show that the THC in marijuana can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream disrupting the endocannabinoid system.
    What is the endocannabinoid system (eCS), and why is it important? It’s a complex molecular system that is responsible for regulating many processes in the body including your immune response, metabolism, and memory. There has been a lot of interest by researchers in the past decade on the eCS system and its impact on fertility. “There is cumulative evidence (that) shows that the eCS plays an important role in reproduction, from egg fertilization to parturition. Therefore, alterations in this system, either by recreation/therapeutic use of cannabis or deregulation of the endogenous cannabinoids, might lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including retardation in embryo development, poor blastocyst implantation, inhibition of decidualization, miscarriage and compromised placentation.”5

We aren’t here to shame you for using cannabis or negate any of the positives that it may have both from a medical & mental health point of view. Admittedly, more research on the impact of marijuana usage while pregnant & while breastfeeding, needs to be studied.
However, all credible sources that IRMS values & follows agree that, in the absence of more robust studies, women who are “pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use.”6

We strongly feel the risks to your potential pregnancy & your future baby are not worth the rewards from consuming cannabis.

For help along your fertility journey, we are here to empower & partner in your care. You can reach us through our website, our social handles or by calling us at 973.548.9900


1 U.S. Legal Cannabis Market to Reach $35 Billion by 2025. www.globenewswire.com

2 2020 Cannabis Consumer Demographics. www.flowhub.com

3 Associations Between Prenatal Cannabis Exposure and Childhood Outcomes Results From the ABCD Study,
Sarah E. Paul, BA; Alexander S. Hatoum, PhD; Jeremy D. Fine, BS; et al. www.jamanetwork.com

4 What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use and Pregnancy. www.cdc.gov

5 Endocannabinoid system and pregnancy
Fernando Correa, Manuel L Wolfson, Paula Valchi, Julieta Aisemberg, Ana María Franchi. www.acog.org

6 Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Lactation. National Library Of Medicine

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