Pharmacologic Implications of Marijuana Use During Pregnancy


      Marijuana is the most commonly used recreational drug in the United States, including among women of childbearing age and women who are pregnant. Changing legal statutes that allow for the use of medical marijuana and the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use reflect more permissive societal views on the use of this drug. Active compounds in marijuana cross the placenta rapidly and are excreted in breast milk. Results of studies of the effects of marijuana on a developing fetus and neonate are conflicting, but researchers have identified chronic marijuana exposure as a risk factor for preterm birth and small-for-gestational-age infants. This article reviews the pharmacology of marijuana and discusses implications for nurses who work with women of childbearing age.


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      Heidi Collins Fantasia, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, is an assistant professor in the College of Health Sciences, School of Nursing, at the University of Massachusetts Lowell in Lowell, MA, and a nurse practitioner at Health Quarters in Beverly, MA.

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      • Assessing Marijuana Use During Pregnancy
        Nursing for Women's HealthVol. 21Issue 3
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          Recreational and medicinal marijuana uses have become more prevalent in recent years. Women’s health nurses are increasingly likely to encounter pregnant women who use or have used marijuana. Research has found that inadequate screening for substance use, inadequate knowledge about the effects of marijuana use, and punitive counseling are barriers to women’s understanding of the importance of seeking treatment for substance use. Provision of evidence-based counseling, education, and resources support women and strengthen the patient–provider relationship.
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