The American Medical Association (AMA) wants to see a warning label on marijuana products saying that their use during pregnancy and breastfeeding could be harmful to babies.
The AMA has decided to push for regulations that require warning labels on medical and recreational pot products, along with signs posted wherever these products are sold. The decision was made based on studies that suggest that marijuana use in pregnancy may be linked with low birth weight, premature births, and behavior problems in young children.
Critics say that the evidence that marijuana use during pregnancy causes harm is weak, but also said that erring on the side of caution makes sense.
Some studies have linked marijuana use in pregnancy with attention problems during childhood and with lower scores on tests of problem-solving skills. 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 AMA says.
Alcohol and tobacco products both carry warnings about use during pregnancy. However, there is much more scientific evidence of harm from alcohol and tobacco than there is for marijuana. Still, marijuana has not been proven safe to use during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
The AMA voted to adopt the proposal and the lobby arm of the association will start bringing the matter to state legislatures. The ultimate goal would be a federal requirement for warning signs, but because marijuana use is illegal under federal law, the policy seeks local and state measures.
In advice issued earlier this year against marijuana use during pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists cited data that said that about 5% of pregnant women use marijuana nationwide, but that use by pregnant women may be as high as 28% in urban areas.
Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and Washington, D.C. Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State, and Washington D.C. Several states require health warnings on marijuana product labels, but Oregon is the only state that currently requires warnings posted at marijuana dispensaries about use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.