Q1: Reading the New York Times article reveals that pregnant women using marijuana are predominantly young. Louis (2017) informs that about 7.5 percent of expectant mothers aged 18-25 years admitted using pot in the past month. In contrast, only 2 percent of their peers of age group 26-44 reported use. Overall, this survey discovers that 4 percent of pregnant mothers consume marijuana. Recent data estimates that about 10 percent of to-be-mothers consume this drug.
Q2: The article includes several stated reasons for using marijuana during. Consumption is usually tied to the false belief that pot bears medicinal benefits. Accordingly, users often state that they use medical marijuana to alleviate “depression, anxiety, stress, pain, nausea, and vomiting” (Louis, 2017, para. 33). Louis (2017) is dismayed by the growing confidence in the safety of marijuana despite there being no corresponding data to back the claims.
Several factors underpin the assumption that marijuana is not a teratogen. Louis (2017) suggests that the growing use of pot and the accompanying perceptions of safety are attributable to its legalization. For many people, legal means safe regardless of paucity of scientific knowledge regarding the effects of the product in question. Marijuana is further perceived as safe because its legalizers often frame it as “medical” and “recreational,” hence confirming its therapeutic benefits regarding many conditions, including those plaguing pregnant women.
Q3: Louis (2017) reveals that consuming marijuana prenatally attracts serious neurological and behavioral consequences. When tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – reaches the fetus, it can harm the fetal brain development, cognition, and birthweight. As early as 18 to 22 weeks of fetal development, maternal marijuana use causes abnormalities in the part of the brain regulating emotions, reward, and motor function.
Q4: Louis acknowledges that maternal marijuana use has life span implications. Smoking at least one joint per day during the first trimester reduces the child’s ability to understand listening and reading concepts at age six and makes them more impulsive and distracted at age 10 years. Louis adds that heavy pot use in the first trimester further causes children at age 14 to record low scores in reading, math, and spelling. In other words, a mother could easily condemn her child to a lifetime of poor academic performance just by consuming pot during pregnancy. It is also possible that violent crimes and pathological behaviors are attributable to abnormal development in certain parts of the brain due to prenatal exposure to THC.
Q5: Louis (2017) asserts that certain problems undermine studying marijuana use in pregnancy. First, most studies in this area are outdated; they were done when pot was far less potent than it is today. Secondly, the research overly relies on self-reported data on marijuana use, which can be unreliable. Finally, pregnant pot smokers are often simultaneous tobacco smokers or alcoholics, making it difficult to isolate risks exclusively attributable to cannabis.
Q6: Potency and fat solubility evoke special concern for pregnant marijuana users. Louis reveals that what is known today about pot effects are based on studies conducted before THC content increased to the present concentration levels. Moreover, THC is stored in fat, enabling it to last longer in the body. Women using marijuana in pregnancy must accept the possibility that the health hazards of pot, which are yet to be fully understood, are mounting as potency rises.
Q7: Both the NYT article and our textbook capture the effects of marijuana use in pregnancy. However, Chapter 2 of the course text seems more elaborate than Louis’s piece. It offers additional information on the implications of pot consumption on other pregnancies and childhood outcomes. Interestingly, both sources agree that the scientific evidence is yet to catch up with the frantic acceptance and use of marijuana.
Q8: I believe marijuana use during pregnancy will rise following its legalization. Historically, legalization reduces social disapproval and streamlines the supply-demand chain, leading to more consumption. When businesses intensify their marketing campaigns extolling marijuana, more people will be enticed into trying it and eventually becoming regular users. Given the established fact that scientific knowledge is yet to catch up with the widespread use of marijuana, I deem pot legalization a serious cause of concern.
Louis, C. S. (2017). Pregnant women turn to marijuana, perhaps harming infants. The New York Times. Web.