Post One: Mama’s Pot and Perception

During my first college winter break I went to a baby shower with a mutual friend. It was lovely, however, the room smelled stingy. It was not stale, but sweet? The room began to fog up and I realized that the smell was from smoking a specific substance, “Granddaddy Purple,” Indica. I informed the host assuming that someone’s dish was burning and that a skunk potentially sprayed the dogs. She laughed and informed me that the smoke was “harmless” and that there is no skunk. From there I realized what it could be so I walked to the room where my friend to gossip about it. Then I saw the bong being passed around the room. I felt uneasy when as I saw the soon-to-be mother retrieving her bong. She would take the biggest and cleanest hits. To the point where the bong would turn white and then an off-white, cream color. I had asked her, “Why are you smoking? Isn’t that bad for the baby?”

Credit: Primo GIF

She laughed and responded, “Honey, weed isn’t harmful. If anything it’s helping me and totally helping the baby relax. The little guy can’t stop squirming.”

— Why this topic? —

To this day, her words still makes me uncomfortable. However, the idea sparked this mindset of wanting to raise more awareness. I was first interested in this topic during the 2016 Elections. After tons of research, I did my duty and voted “no” on Proposition 64, but unfortunately the proposition passed. Disclaimer: I am not for nor against marijuana, however, I prefer to have more light shed on health risks, specifically for expectant mothers. I do not intend to shame anyone who smokes or uses marijuana in any way. I repeat, I am only shedding light on the perception of risks from marijuana for expectant mothers.

— Facts On Marijuana —

Marijuana, otherwise known as cannabis, was only seen as a medical herb that helped patients with depression, anxiety insomnia, etc, but now normalized for recreational uses (NIDA). In 2012, Colorado and Washington allow recreational marijuana and soon followed by District of Columbia and Alaska. Now, recreational use is acceptable in: California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada. Because of Proposition 64 being passed, many complications arose with it and one of it was the perception of risks. The perception about low health risks from marijuana is problematic.

In a recent article, Pregnant Women Turn to Marijuana, Perhaps Harming Infants, by Catherine Saint Louis, a mother admits to smoking marijuana to ease her first trimester sickness. Although her baby had no birth defects, it seems alarming and raises the question, “Why are people’s perception on marijuana lack risks?” Although there are studies on how marijuana can have defects, no mother would want to admit to it. In the same article, Dr. Erica Wymore, a neonatologist, stated, “That’s why some providers and lay people alike think there’s no effect…Just because they don’t have a major birth defect or overt withdrawal symptoms doesn’t mean the baby’s neurological development is not impacted.” It’s true that while the effects aren’t evident, time will reveal the neurological impacts that marijuana creates. Just some of the effects for children exposed to cannabis while in the womb are altered responses to visual stimuli, increased trembling, and a high pitched cry developmental and hyperactivity disorders, increase in stress responsiveness and abnormal social patterns; for expectant mothers, it increases the chances of stillbirth (NIDA).

Credit: Jennifer Sens for The New York Times

— On A Broader Note —

No one understands marijuana dependency, but once a user becomes more dependent on marijuana, the long term effects outweigh the short term effects. Although the short term effects are temporary, the long term effects can impact a person to being nonfunctional. Some of the mental health problems from long term effects is depression, anxiety, paranoia, and schizophrenia.

— Why Is This Important? —

I believe that addressing the problem that had little recognition is important for awareness. Millennials are very supportive of cannabis, but don’t realize its overall damage and what can possibly harm the generation we are producing. First, pregnant mothers should ideally research on what can affect the baby and find other alternatives to get pass their first trimester sickness. Secondly, more research should be more on the trimesters when a mother smokes. What makes this any different from smoking a cigarette or drinking alcohol while being pregnant? The evidence is not as present physically, but mentally it is. Is smoking marijuana while being pregnant still harmless?

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Citations Page

Abuse, National Institute on Drug. “Can marijuana use during and after pregnancy harm the baby?” NIDA. N.p., Jan. 2017. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

Abuse, National Institute on Drug. “Is there a link between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders?” NIDA. N.p., Jan. 2017. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

Christensen, Jen. “Five states consider legalizing marijuana.” CNN. Cable News Network, 09 Nov. 2016. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

Ferner, Matt. “Alaska Becomes Fourth State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana.” The Huffington Post., 05 Nov. 2014. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

Louis, Catherine Saint. “Pregnant Women Turn to Marijuana, Perhaps Harming Infants.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Feb. 2017. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

Smith, Aaron. “Marijuana legalization on the ballot.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 06 Nov. 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.