Marijuana’s Effect on the Developing Brain and Pregnancy

Last Updated: Friday, May 15, 2020

marijuanaleaves_whitebackground_articleThough marijuana laws are changing in states across the nation, the fact remains that using the drug still poses serious risks – especially for young people and pregnant women.

Not too long ago, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams put out a message to the public highlighting those risks.

When it comes to marijuana use during pregnancy, his office gave the following facts:

  • THC (the marijuana compound that causes the user to get high) can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream.
  • It may disrupt the endocannabinoid system, which is important for a healthy pregnancy and fetal brain development.
  • Studies have shown that marijuana use in pregnancy is associated with adverse outcomes, including lower birth weight.
  • The Colorado Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System reported that maternal marijuana use was associated with a 50% increased risk of low birth weight regardless of maternal age, race, ethnicity, education, and tobacco use.


The advisory also warns that frequent youth marijuana use:

  • Changes in the areas of the brain involved in attention, memory, decision-making, and motivation. Deficits in attention and memory have been detected in marijuana-using teens even after a month of abstinence.
  • Impaired learning in adolescents. Chronic use is linked to declines in IQ, school performance that jeopardizes professional and social achievements, and life satisfaction.
  • Increased rates of school absence and drop-out, as well as suicide attempts.


Read the rest of his advisory.


Watch the video below of the Surgeon General answering questions about marijuana.

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