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Study: Majority of Colorado pot shops recommend pregnant women use marijuana for morning sickness

Nearly 70 percent of Colorado's marijuana dispensaries recommend the drug for morning sickness associated with pregnancy. (Getty Images)

Nearly 70 percent of Colorado's pot shops are recommending cannabis use for pregnant women who experience morning sickness, according to a new study.

The study was published Wednesday in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Its senior author, Dr. Torri Metz of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, said the findings surprised her.

“We did not anticipate that 69 percent of the dispensaries contacted would have a recommendation. We expected a much higher proportion of them to say that they could not make a recommendation or to encourage women to talk with their health care providers,” Metz told KCNC-TV.

There's a growing concern about the health of the fetus with more and more states legalizing the drug. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists discourages physicians from suggesting or prescribing marijuana to women before pregnancy, during pregnancy, or while nursing.

“We do know that THC crosses into the placenta and so if a woman is using marijuana during pregnancy it does cross to the fetus, so it’s definitely plausible that there would be effects on the fetus,” Metz said.

Extensive research, including a recent study by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions, has shown a link between marijuana use and low-birth weight, prematurity, and neurological defects in infants.

What's the story?

In the study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, an anonymous caller contacted 400 randomly selected marijuana dispensaries last summer, which included shops licensed for medical sale, recreational sale, or both.

The caller told the dispensary that she was eight weeks pregnant and suffering from morning sickness.

The responses varied from "Google it first" to pot being a "smart choice" for a pregnant woman, according to the study.

“I know aspirin is OK for babies, and that is pretty much what you are getting in an aspirin. That is probably better,” one shop employee said.

Another told the caller some doctors "just lie" and want to "push pills on you."

The majority, 69 percent, recommended treatment of morning sickness with cannabis products.

Most employees (65 percent) based their suggestions on personal opinion, but 36 percent stated marijuana is safe during pregnancy.

Finally, the majority, 82 percent, advised the caller to speak with their health care provider, and of those only 32 percent made the recommendation without prompting.

How can women treat morning sickness?

There are some safe ways for women to treat nausea caused by pregnancy.

“First line medical therapy for treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is vitamin B6 and doxylamine,” Metz told Reuters in an email. “This combination has been studied extensively and there is not concern for fetal harm, and there are numerous other agents that can also be prescribed if the first line therapy fails.”

As always, it's recommended to follow the advice of your physician.

One last thing…
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