It’s Not Your Mother’s Marijuana: Effects on Maternal-Fetal Health and the Developing Child

Tamara D. Warner, PhD1, Dikea Roussos-Ross, MD2, and Marylou Behnke, MD1

Tamara D. Warner:; Dikea Roussos-Ross:; Marylou Behnke:

1University of Florida, Department of Pediatrics, P.O. Box 100296, Gainesville, FL 32610-0296, (352) 273-8985

2University of Florida, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, P.O. Box 100294, Gainesville, FL 32610-0294, (352) 273-7660


Pro-marijuana advocacy efforts exemplified by the “medical” marijuana movement, coupled with the absence of conspicuous public health messages about the potential dangers of marijuana use during pregnancy, could lead to greater use of today’s more potent marijuana, which could have significant short- and long-term consequences. This article will review the current literature regarding the effects of prenatal marijuana use on the pregnant woman and her offspring.


Societal attitudes towards marijuana use in the United States are undergoing an historical shift. In the 1960s, a generation of young people embraced marijuana for personal recreational use. Today, “medical” marijuana (cannabis sativa) has been approved for use in 22 states and the District of Columbia either by legislation or by popular vote in statewide referenda or ballot initiatives; 15 of the 22 legal actions were passed in the last decade (since 2004).1 As of May, 2014, another seven states have pending legislation or ballot measures to legalize medical marijuana.2 In addition, two states, Colorado and Washington state, have legalized marijuana for recreational use. The attitudinal shift is apparent not just among adults but among teens as well. The most recent annual survey of adolescent drug use indicates that the annual prevalence of marijuana use has been trending upward since 2008 for 8th, 10th, and 12th graders; perhaps more importantly, the perceived risk of regular marijuana use has declined sharply in recent years, a trend that started in 2005.3

Source:  Clin Perinatal 2014 December 41(4):  877-894  doi 10.1016/j.clp  2014.0.009

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