CHICAGO — Warning: Marijuana use during pregnancy and breast-feeding poses potential harms.
That message would be written on medical and recreational marijuana products and posted wherever they’re sold if the nation’s most influential doctors group has its way.
The American Medical Association agreed to push for regulations requiring such warnings be written on medical and recreational pot products and posted wherever they’re sold.
The decision was made based on studies suggesting marijuana use may be linked with low birth weight, premature birth and behavior problems in children.
Critics say evidence of harm is weak, but while advocates agree that more research is needed, they say erring on the side of caution makes sense.
Some studies have linked marijuana use in pregnancy with childhood attention problems and lower scores on problem-solving measures. THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, has been found in the milk of women who use it while breastfeeding, and some data suggests the drug can affect the quality and quantity of breast milk, the new policy says.
There are similar warnings for alcohol and tobacco, “so why not do the same thing with marijuana since it is the most commonly used illicit drug during pregnancy,” said Dr. Diana Ramos, a Los Angeles physician with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which proposed the warnings at an AMA policy-making meeting in Atlanta.
There’s much more scientific evidence of harm from alcohol and tobacco than from marijuana, but marijuana has not been proven safe to use during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
The AMA voted to adopt the proposal. In advice issued earlier this year against marijuana use during pregnancy, the OB-GYN group cited data putting use during pregnancy at about 5 percent nationwide, but as high as 28 percent among some urban low-income women.
While some women use the drug during or after pregnancy to ease nausea, chronic pain or depression, there are alternatives without the potential risks, said Dr. Judy Chang, an associate OB-GYN professor at the University of Pittsburgh who studies substance abuse in pregnancy.
Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and Washington, D.C. Recreational use of marijuana also is legal in Washington D.C., as well as in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
Several states require health warnings on cannabis product labels, but Oregon “is the only state that currently requires a point of sale warning at dispensaries regarding cannabis use in pregnant or breast-feeding women,” according to information in the proposal.