Today's Spice marijuana is more harmful to pregnancy reports new study
Today's strains of marijuana, such as those labeled as “Spice” or “Herbal High,” are much more potent than the strains popular in the 1970s and 1980s. According to a new study, these products can cause anencephaly (absent brain), neurobehavioural deficiencies such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, and memory impairment in the developing fetus of a mother who smokes marijuana. Researchers affiliated with Texas A&M Health Science Center (Houston, Texas), the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research (Orangeburg, New York), and New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY) published their findings online in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis.
The study authors note that a recent study estimated that the worldwide use of marijuana by pregnant women is as high as 20%; however, many of these women are unaware of the potential harm they are doing to their developing fetus by exposing them to high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the major psychoactive component of karijuana. They add that marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug by pregnant women in the world.
Recent studies have reported that the developing central nervous system (CNS) is susceptible to the effects of THC and other cannabimimetics, including the psychoactive ingredients of the branded product ‘Spice’ branded products. They note that these exocannabinoids interfere with the function of an endocannabinoid (eCB) system, present in the developing CNS from five weeks of gestation; the eCB is essential for proliferation, migration, and differentiation of neurons in the CNS. Until recently, it was not known whether the eCB system was also present in the developing CNS during the initial stages of embryonic development (two weeks of gestation), and if so, whether this system is also susceptible to the action of exocannabinoids. The authors note that the synthetic cannabinoids that are found in Spice products are 500 to 600 times more potent than the THC found in “traditional” marijuana.
In view of the foregoing, the researchers reviewed current data, in which the presence of an eCB system during the initial stage of development of the CNS was demonstrated. In addition, they focused on recent advances on the effect of canabimimetics on early gestation. They discussed the relevance of these findings and potential adverse developmental consequences of in utero exposure to ‘high potency’ marijuana, Spice branded products and/or cannabinoid research chemicals during this period. In addition, they addressed the potential consequence of these findings in terms of the hazards of synthetic cannabinoid use during pregnancy, and the ongoing debate over legalization of marijuana.
“The THC contained in high-potency marijuana and the potent THC analogues contained in Spice products...are potentially harmful to embryonic development as early as two weeks after conception. By the time a woman realizes she is pregnant and stops taking these substances, it may already be too late for her unborn child,” noted lead author Delphine Psychoyos, PhD, who was affiliated with the Center for Environmental and Genetic Medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center in Houston at the time the study.
Take home message:
This study notes that marijuana use during pregnancy, even at the very early stages, can do irreversible harm to the developing fetus. Thus, the substance should be avoided by any women who may become pregnant.
Reference: Drug Testing and Analysis