Can Your Partner Smoke Pot Around You While You're Pregnant? Science Responds


With the legalization of marijuana spreading across the states, recreational pot use doesn't have the same stigma it once had. With more and more people lighting up at home and with friends, there's bound to be some concerns about interactions and safety regarding the effects the secondhand smoke might have on other people in the population — especially children and pregnant women. What are the implications for them? If you're expecting, or want to be soon, can your partner smoke pot around you while you're pregnant? You know secondhand cigarette smoke isn't good for anyone, but how does weed differ?

The literature on this is developing as medicine explores not only the effects of recreational marijuana use, but also medicinal marijuana use in the pregnant populations. Because of this lack of evidence and longitudinal study, it's difficult to determine exactly what the outcomes for the babies born to parents who smoke pot regularly will be. According to US News and World Report, there are emerging studies that might suggest that secondhand smoke and primary marijuana use in pregnant women results in negative consequences for the developing fetus. The same report also concluded it was dangerous to smoke near children as well, citing the potentiality of risks to their growing minds and bodies.

The dangers of tobacco use around pregnant women are well documented. There is a noted difference in birth weight and decreased brain growth in-utero. Most of these studies not only look at the smoke on the whole, but parse out the dangers of individual contaminants as the etiologic agents of these consequences. Because of some shared properties of cigarette smoke and marijuana smoke, there is concern that there might also be shared consequences. However, we also know that the long-term effects of smoking cannabis versus smoking tobacco products are very different. For instance, according to The Harm Reduction Journal, because of the very nature of nicotine and cannabis, the resulting smoke from the two compounds acts very differently in the body.

It might make you wonder if it's any different from your husband having a martini as he rubs your feet or your wife building you a cozy bonfire on which to toast marshmallows. Can your partner smoke pot around you while you're pregnant if the science looks better for it than for tobacco?

It would be nice if science could provide a simple, clear-cut answer like they do for cigarettes, especially given the studies currently being completed surrounding the possible benefits of marijuana use for women who experience severe nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy. It's just not that easy. The literature is too new, the studies are too few to rule out danger, and the emerging studies are showing that there are possible dangers for pregnant women and their unborn children who are exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke during their gestational period.

Primary, secondhand and even thirdhand cannabis smoke are considered absolutely unsafe by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology for the very fact that it's possible that it may have the same or similar teratogenic effects of cigarettes, and they've determined more studies are required to deem it safe or even less risky. As of now, their guidelines are such that pregnant and lactating women aren't exposed at all to the smoke. That means that your partner shouldn't even be smoking in the same home as you while you're pregnant, even if you're not there, because even if you can't smell it or see it, that doesn't mean it isn't lingering on fabrics and in the air.

Pregnancy is one of those times where it's OK to be seen as the boring Debbie Downer, because you're doing what's right for you and advocating for your child. Consider this good practice for the future. And ask your partner and friends to step outside.

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