Whose Pot Is This?

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What are marijuana's long-term effects on the brain?

Until recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered nothing. In a statement, CDC officials expressed concern about memory and attention problems among children exposed to THC in utero. Marie McCormick, a pediatrician and the chairwoman of a new report on cannabis from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, said smoking cannabis "does confer, in terms of birth weight, the same risk as cigarettes. Some of the gathering evidence is reassuring. So far, prenatal cannabis exposure does not appear to be linked to obvious birth defects.

Erica Wymore, a neonatologist at Children's Hospital Colorado. But she warned, "Just because they don't have a major birth defect or overt withdrawal symptoms doesn't mean the baby's neurological development is not impacted.


Some pregnant women are OK with using pot, but at whose risk?

Most research in this area was done when the drug was far less potent. There are two additional problems with studies of maternal cannabis use. Research is often based on reports by pregnant women — instead of, say, tests of urine or the umbilical cord — and they consistently underreport their use.

Researchers know of underreporting because samples reveal discrepancies. And pregnant women who roll joints also tend to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol; it can be hard to tease out the risks of cannabis itself. Few realize that THC is stored in fat and therefore can linger in a mother's body for weeks, if not months.

Provinces and pot: Whose approach is best?

It's not known whether the fetus's exposure is limited to the hours a woman feels high. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises clinicians to ask pregnant women about marijuana use and to urge them to quit. To find out whether that's happening, Dr. Judy Chang, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Pittsburgh, and her colleagues recorded more than first visits with pregnant patients. Medical staff were more likely to warn patients that child protective services might be called if they used marijuana, the researchers found, than to advise them of potential health risks.

When mothers-to-be admitted to marijuana use, almost half of obstetric clinicians did not respond at all.

Parents who smoke pot

Pregnant women aren't eager to discuss it, either, because they are afraid of legal repercussions or a lecture. When a marijuana addict begins going to meetings, there may be interference and conflict with your normal living schedule, routines, and family obligations. This is where your compassion, patience, and encouragement will be called upon.

10 LIES You Were Told About Marijuana

The time spent in the past by the addict in the pursuit of getting and staying high may now be spent going to meetings, reading recovery literature, speaking on the phone with other MA members, writing, meditating, and praying. These activities are of paramount importance to the newly clean addict and your support will be of great value. You may be surprised to find that the addict now insists on attending to certain activities and responsibilities you felt compelled to take care of in the past. This is not a time to condemn past behavior, but an opportunity to practice trust and benevolence.

The outcome will be the mutual reward of nurturing a new and healthy relationship.

What are marijuana's long-term effects on the brain? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

We as individuals can only be responsible for ourselves. This applies to both the addict and the individual who cares. Take each day, one at a time. Be unafraid and happy. Try to adjust yourself to what is, today. Strengthen your own mind and body, exercise your own soul. Marijuana addiction in your children, spouse, or other loved ones is difficult for you to live with in healthy ways. You need support also. Some options are 12 Step and support groups for friends and family, church groups, and therapy.

These resources can teach you how to live your life more fully, regardless of what your loved ones are doing. You may have the opportunity to discuss the unique problem of living with a loved one's addiction. It is important to remember that addiction is a disease which greatly affects the addict and those who love the addict. In Alberta, pot can be smoked anywhere cigarettes are smoked, with one exception — no toking in motor vehicles, even for passengers. Alberta will allow adults to grow their own marijuana, to a maximum of four plants, but they must be grown indoors.

Ontario has also adopted the no-outdoor-gardening rule.

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To date, all provinces have limited sales to 30 grams at a time about a small baggie's worth but with no limit on how much cannabis one can keep for personal use in the home. Quebec, however, says a personal stash must not exceed grams. Clearly, with the July 1 deadline approaching, all provinces need to make their plans clear, and soon.

All eyes are now on British Columbia, the land of bud. Will the newly elected NDP government legalize the province's extensive network of dispensaries, take the state-run-store route or try some hybrid approach? This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe. If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters globeandmail.

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