Cannabis Edibles and Pregnancy

One of the first snapbacks cannamamas receive for smoking cannabis while pregnant is that smoke in and of itself is harmful to the fetus, and that edibles should be consumed instead. It has even been advised publicly by self-proclaimed cannabis activists that edibles “do not cross the placenta barrier”, and edible consumption treats pregnancy woes “way more effectively”.

Let’s think about these claims, shall we?

CannaMama Clinic understands there are cleaner ways to consume cannabis than smoking the flower of the plant. It is understood that smoking cannabis introduces carcinogens via smoke inhalation. However, as we always state, everything a woman does while pregnant presents a risk for her fetus and she must determine if the perceived risk to the fetus is worth the perceived benefit to her health and the health of her fetus.

In early 2017, CannaMama Clinic surveyed over 760 random cannamamas from the Facebook group, Closed CannaMama Clinic via a Google Form created by CMC called “CannaMama Pregnancy Survey”. 88.9% answered that they consumed cannabis while pregnant to treat nausea. Over 25% said they suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum aka “HG”, a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Over 80% of the respondents chose to smoke flower as their consumption method preference. The other options were vape flower, dab concentrates, vape concentrates, take tincture, apply topical, swallow edibles, insert suppository, and other. Only 5% chose to consume edibles to treat their ailments while pregnant.

These percentages are unsurprising to the CannaMama Clinic Team.

Let us examine CannaMama Clinic’s theories as to why our respondents overwhelmingly chose to smoke cannabis flower over other consumption methods.

**CMC does plan to follow-up with another survey for clarification, and we also feel like some of the reasons are painfully obvious.** 

  1. Administration Issues. How does a woman who can’t eat consume edibles??? Edibles take up to two hours for the consumer to feel the effect. Smoking only takes moments. When the thought of swallowing food makes you vomit, and holding down water is impossible, the suggestion to consume food as medicine is almost offensive. Even if a woman managed to keep an edible down, suffering for any more time than necessary seems unkind, unnecessary, and poor medical advise especially if you believe smoking cannabis while pregnant is safer to your unborn baby than taking a Tylenol or being a passenger in a motor vehicle.
  2. Dosage. Pregnancy really is not the time for experimentation with edibles. Almost 76% of the CannaMama Pregnancy Survey respondents declared they had health concerns unrelated to pregnancy that they chose cannabis as treatment prior to becoming pregnant. It makes sense that these women knew how to reach optimum wellness with cannabis before pregnancy and can easily maintain their health needs after in the same manner. Based on the high percentage of women who answered they continued to smoke cannabis while pregnant (over 80%), it would seem they were comfortable with their ability to dose themselves by smoking the flower. Because the effects of smoking are felt so quickly, it is easy to determine if you need another puff or not. Regular consumers quickly learn where their sweet spot is whether it be one hit, one bowl, one joint, one blunt or other. For my purposes, a bowl is about a tenth of a gram. I smoke 2 to 3 when I wake up in the morning just to feel balanced when I am not pregnant. It took more to effectively control my nausea, vomiting, and HG when pregnant. Unfortunately, the pharmacology of cannabis is not clear due to lack of research, and so very few people actually know their dosage as was also determined by the CannaMama Pregnancy Survey. Edibles are much more difficult to gauge even for the seasoned consumer. So many factors contribute to the way a cannabis consumer will react to an edible including the consumer’s metabolism, what the edible was made from, who made it, the consistency of cannabinoids throughout the product, whether or not it was decarboxylated first, how much the consumer ate that day, what the consumer ate that day, and more. That is a lot of variables for a pregnant woman.
  3. Availability. Pretending edibles are easily accessible is an extremely privileged attitude. According to the CannaMama Pregnancy Survey, 65.3% of the respondents obtained their cannabis from the underground market. 31.5% of the respondents live in a state completely restrictive of cannabis consumption, and only 13% had a medical cannabis license at the time of their survey submission.
  4. Cost. Again, pretending edibles are affordable is an extremely privileged attitude. CBD isolate is EXPENSIVE!!! CBD isolate is the start of the highest quality edibles.
  5. Effectiveness. Effective means different things to different people. As an HG survivor myself, effective to me meant my son had a chance when HG threatened my pregnancy. Effective meant I could go back to school and live a fairly normal life. Effective meant my vomiting subsided substantially and the nausea was bearable. For me, I found smoking cannabis was an easy and quick way to combat my pregnancy woes which I still consider the most effective treatment during both of my pregnancies. I did not have access to edibles when I had HG nor the knowledge of how to make them for myself. Once I did, I had little interest in consuming edibles while pregnant.
  6. Preference. I prefer to smoke. Even now that edibles are extremely accessible to me, I rarely consume them. Besides the cost, it is difficult to find items that do not also contain allergens such as gluten or dairy or that would be considered real food at local dispensaries. I lack the desire to infuse the foods I eat. Besides, I rarely cook for just myself. I cook for my whole family so the idea of using cannacoconut oil in my food or cooking separately for myself is not viable.  Finally, I enjoy smoking. Taking medication in an enjoyable manner is the bees knees.

Now let’s talk about cannabis consumption via smoke inhalation versus digestion and how the different methods flow through the placenta to the fetus. THC enters the blood whether it is smoked or swallowed. To say THC consumed in edibles does not cross the “placenta barrier” definitively is a disservice to cannamamas. The difference between the consumption methods of smoking and digestion is how much THC enters the blood and at what rate which varies from person to person depending on metabolism. Smoking always deposits more THC in the blood than swallowing it does, but that fact has no bearing on how well the placenta filters the THC or its metabolite. The placenta is an amazing filter. My daughter and I were urine tested after I gave birth to her because I admitted my choice to consume cannabis to a nurse earlier in my pregnancy. I tested positive. She tested negative. I consumed heavily my entire pregnancy, I was smoking a bowl as I bounced on my ball when I went into labor, and she was born a mere 3 hours later… I have no way to explain that besides to thank my placenta.

So please, stop telling cannamamas to just eat an edible.