Humboldt County stands against cannabis use during pregnancies, breastfeeding

State research indicates a potentially unsafe relationship between cannabis use and pregnancies. (The Associated Press file)
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State research about cannabis use while pregnant or breastfeeding prompted the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors today to unanimously stand against it.

In a resolution, the supervisors called for women “contemplating pregnancy, already pregnant, breastfeeding or who plan to breastfeed” to “avoid using cannabis in any form.”

“Consuming cannabis can affect the health of a growing baby and is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or who plan to become pregnant soon,” states a county staff report.

“Due to varying arguments for using cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding, there is significant need in Humboldt County to provide factual, research-based information to the population to make informed choices on how cannabis affects the development and overall health of children when exposed to it,” it continues.

If the compound THC makes its way into breast milk, it could be passed onto a baby, according to health research compiled today by the Department of Health and Human Services.

There’s no proof that cannabis can relieve morning sickness, and mainstream medicine advises against use in pregnancy because of studies suggesting it might cause premature birth, low birth weight and infant brain deficits.

But the National Institute on Drug Abuse is pressing for more solid evidence. Many of those studies were in animals or complicated by marijuana users’ other habits and lifestyles.

“I don’t want us to cry wolf,” Dr. Nora Volkow, the agency’s director, told the Associated Press. “We have to do these studies in a way that can identify risks.”

Members of various local health organizations have formed a subcommittee to formally review the research associated with the subject. Multiple member of DHHS and First Five Humboldt presented the group’s findings to the board.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is providing almost $1.5 million for three studies of marijuana use in pregnancy — at Washington University in St. Louis, at the University of Denver and at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.

“One of the big arguments about why this is unethical is that we already know the answers. That is not true,” Susan Weiss, who oversees outside research for the institute, told the Associated Press. “We’re living in this very large social experiment and we need to learn from it.”

Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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