New Study Finds More Northern California Pregnant Women are Testing Positive for Marijuana


A new study revealed that more Northern California moms-to-be are testing positive for marijuana. Urine tests that were given to 280,000 women showed that younger women are especially prone to consume cannabis during pregnancy.

As Weed Becomes More Socially Accepted, Are Pregnant Women Smoking More? 

Because of the legal status of cannabis, there haven’t been many studies to show the consequences of smoking pot while pregnant. As marijuana becomes more and more socially acceptable however, it seems that more women are using it during pregnancy. Those that are though, are typically younger.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published findings of the women who were enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health-care system. Urine tests are a standard of prenatal care everywhere. In this case, urine samples were analyzed and compared with others that had been taken in the past.

While the prevalence of using pot during pregnancy rose from 4 percent to 7 percent between 2009-2016 overall, there was an even greater increase among younger women. 22 percent of women under 18 tested positive for pot while pregnant, while 19 percent of women 18-24 tested positive. In women over the age of 25, less than 5 percent tested positive.

Are Pregnant Women Really Smoking More Weed? 

There is however, a slight problem with the results of the study. There’s no way to determine if these women smoked before or during their pregnancy. Cannabis stays in a person’s urine for up to 30 days, and a lot of women don’t even realize they’re pregnant for some weeks after conception. Theoretically, they could have smoked before learning they were pregnant.

According to authors of the study, “Prenatal use before vs after women realized they were pregnant could not be distinguished.”

The study was also only conducted in Northern California. Which also happens to be the weed capital of the world. The results of the study only highlight this demographic of women, without looking at pregnant women in other states across the country. 

There are women who are open about using cannabis during pregnancy. It is, after all, known to be excellent for nausea and can help immensely with morning sickness. Just because more women are using pot during pregnancy to help with morning sickness and nausea, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a good thing.

There’s little information on how marijuana smoke exactly effects babies in the womb. Until further findings are discovered and cannabis is proven safe to use during pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends expectant mothers leave the weed alone.