69 Percent of Marijuana Store Clerks in Colorado Recommend Pot for Morning Sickness

69 Percent of Marijuana Store Clerks in Colorado Recommend Pot for Morning Sickness

Doctors at the University of Colorado School of Medicine recently surveyed 400 marijuana dispensaries to find out what advice store clerks might be giving to pregnant women about pot and pregnancy.

The results, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, were surprising.

69 percent of medically untrained dispensary store clerks told a female caller that smoking weed is a great way to deal with her morning sickness when she’s pregnant in her first trimester – the period when a fetus is at its most vulnerable. And a third of them actually stated that such practice was medically safe.

Since Colorado legalized both medical and recreational cannabis four years ago, the number of marijuana dispensaries in the state has exploded.

Becky Dickson, MD, of the U of C and Colorado School of Public Health and colleagues learned from a recent study that nearly half the women in Colorado used marijuana during pregnancy

“to help with nausea and vomiting.” Also, pregnant women may avoid discussing it with healthcare providers for fear of “legal repercussions.”

The mystery caller

Dickson’s team adopted a “mystery caller” approach to call 400 cannabis dispensaries randomly selected throughout the state. The person calling these stores pretended to be a woman who was eight weeks pregnant and looking for a way to deal with her morning sickness.

Out of the 400 dispensaries the researchers contacted, 37 percent were licensed for medical use, 35 percent licensed for medical and retail use, and 28 percent retail use only. 277 of them recommended pot for morning sickness – 65 percent of them based on “personal opinion” and 6 percent referenced some research. Only 4.7 percent mentioned risk of fetal harm, and only 1.8 percent mentioned a risk of both fetal and maternal harm.

Now, when our mystery caller asked the store clerks if she should speak with a healthcare provider about her potential cannabis use, 81.5 percent agreed. However, only 32 percent of them did so without prompting, and roughly 25 percent suggested the caller get more information online.

What about the science?

Perhaps the clerks saying pot was safe during early pregnancy isn’t too surprising after all. They make their living selling marijuana to almost anyone and everyone who asks. It makes sense to expand your customer base when you get the chance. And they probably do believe that it’s harmless.

But morning sickness isn’t always benign. It can lead to Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), a pregnancy complication that can cause severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and possibly dehydration that can be life-threatening if left untreated. A woman using medical marijuana may be asleep on a couch when she should be in the hospital.

So looking at this in the cold light of science fact, and advising everyone that it’s safe is immoral at best. The science on the effects of cannabis on the fetus is still ongoing, so its safety is far from assured. It clearly remains a potential danger to both the baby and the mother.

Also, giving medical advice like that is probably illegal. Dispensing medical advice about the uses of marijuana – whether or not the advice is accurate – is more than just ill-considered. Unless you’re a licensed health care practitioner, it’s a federal crime.

There may be more marijuana clerks in Colorado than the 560 people who are licensed obstetricians and gynecologists. And that situation is threatening to expand, state after state. Women everywhere are advised to please get their medical advice from physicians, not from store clerks.

If you or someone you care about is having any kind of problem with substance use or abuse, don’t hesitate to call us here at Novus at (855) 464-8550. We’ll help you get pointed in the right direction. Helping people is what we do, and we’re famous for doing it well.

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