Pregnant and Parenting Moms in Washington Harmed by Legal Pot

A new peer-reviewed study about to be published in the January 2018 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that marijuana use at exit from a 3-year case management intervention program for pregnant and parenting women increased significantly after marijuana legalization in Washington state.
“This study adds to the data we have about legalization driving up use and negatively impacting society,” said SAM President Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D. “States should slow down and realize that their actions have real consequences, especially among populations highlighted in this study — parents and children.”
The researchers divided the study sample into two cohorts based on whether participants had completed the program before or after legalization.
Researchers reported the following results:
“Most study participants reported complete abstinence from alcohol and nonprescription drugs at program exit. Among those who were still using substances, women who completed the intervention after marijuana legalization were significantly more likely to report marijuana use at program exit compared with women who completed the intervention before marijuana legalization. Across both cohorts (pre- and post-legalization), we found a positive association of exit marijuana use with alcohol, illegal methadone, other opioids, amphetamines, and cocaine use; even when we controlled for historical period, the association with some of these substances with marijuana use remained evident. Independent of marijuana use, we saw increased use during the post-legalization period of alcohol, illicit methadone, and other opioids.”
The study concluded that “Women who were not abstinent from marijuana at program exit were likely to report use of other substances as well. Our study design demonstrates an association but does not allow us to conclude that marijuana use leads to other substance use among this sample of women with a history of polysubstance use.”

About SAM


Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states.

Tracking the Effects on Children

Since legalization began  on December 5, 2012, Parents Opposed to Pot has been tracking marijuana – related child abuse deaths.    We have found 102 such deaths; we believe the problem is significant and should be studied.

  • The medical marijuana dispensaries and websites advising pregnant women to use marijuana for morning sickness are WRONG.  It can affect your child’s brain and can contribute to specific infant heart problems and one type of leukemia.
  • Breast-feeding women who use marijuana are giving THC to their children and should stop.
  • No parents or babysitters of small children should use marijuana, because they cannot be attentive and responsive to urgent needs.   This warning is far more important than a warning not to drink one or two glasses of wine or beer.   One joint is far more impairing, because the mind checks out immediately.   With a few puffs out of that joint,  the user loses all sense of time and stops thinking of tasks on hand.   This is the reason there have been so  many drownings, fires and children left in hot cars — with their parents unable to respond.
    Kavanagh and Juliet Ramirez, 1 and 2, dies after their mom smoked pot and left them in the car this past summer.

    Support for Addicted Mothers and Protection of the Children

Parents Opposed to Pot believes that states should strongly support addiction treatment for pregnant women and addicted moms with young children.   The treatment should not be focused on harm reduction, but on total abstinence for the good of the mother and the child.    New Hampshire has some good programs.

California is legalizing marijuana next year.  Proposition 64 put in protections so that no parent who is a marijuana user can lose  custody and visitation rights. The marijuana lobby argues that pot is not addictive, while we argue that addicted parents are an extreme danger to children.    California needs to change the law.

While pot-using adults and parents may giggle and have fun, there’s a certain amount of brain impairment that goes unrecognized.  In March, 2013, a mom in Centralia, WA, shared a bong with her toddler at the urging of pot smoking friends.    She did not mean to harm her child, but she was not capable of thinking clearly under the influence.    (Photo shown on top of article.)