Breastfeeding and marijuana

Smiling baby girl lying on a bed

Would you let your baby smoke pot?

This mother does:

Enlight44

That’s what she is doing when she smokes pot while breastfeeding. Indeed, the baby gets a GREATER concentration of active ingredients than the mother does.

The mother wrote:

Need a safe place to share this beautiful picture …

Perhaps the fact that she was high is responsible for her delusion that the internet — even a private group — is a safe space.

Is she unaware that she is potentially poisoning the baby’s brain or is she just too high to give a damn?

Not surprisingly, the image has gone viral. According to the Irish Sun, Shocking photo appearing to show a US woman breastfeeding while taking hits from a BONG sparks outrage:

A shocking photo which appears to show an American woman breastfeeding while taking hits from a bong has caused outrage online.

The image shows breastfeeding mum Kayla Marlow holding a purple pipe – used to inhale drugs – to her mouth while her friend holds a lighter over the other end.

The post was shared by Ms Marlow, thought to be from Portland, Oregon, a state which has legalised the use of marijuana in most circumstances…

The picture was shared in a cannabis parenting support group on Facebook, but screenshots of the original post have gathered almost 9,700 likes and over 2,000 shares.

A cannabis parenting group? They are (or have become) a secret group so I can’t see what supporting canabis parenting means, but perhaps someone familiar with the group will let me know.

Many readers were outraged and no doubt Child Protective Services has been notified. That’s entirely appropriate since marijuana may cause serious neurodevelopmental problems in a breastfeeding infant.

According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s Guidelines for Breastfeeding and Substance Use or Substance Use Disorder:

…D9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main compound in marijuana, is present in human milk up to eight times that of maternal plasma levels, and metabolites are found in infant feces, indicating that THC is absorbed and metabolized by the infant. It is rapidly distributed to the brain and adipose tissue and stored in fat tissues for weeks to months. It has a long half-life (25–57 hours) and stays positive in the urine for 2–3 weeks …

There are few studies of marijuana use and breastfeeding and the results are conflicting. But animal studies raise the possibility of serious neurological impairment.

…[C]annabinoid exposure during critical periods of brain development can induce subtle and long-lasting neurofunctional alterations. Several preclinical studies highlight how even low to moderate doses during particular periods of brain development can have profound consequences for brain maturation, potentially leading to long-lasting alterations in cognitive functions and emotional behaviors.

Therefore, the ABM recommends:

Breastfeeding mothers should be counseled to reduce or eliminate their use of marijuana to avoid exposing their infants to this substance and advised of the possible long-term neurobehavioral effects from continued use.

I’d love to know the mother’s “reasoning” behind breastfeeding while high. Does she not understand that she is essentially making the baby high, too? Is she unaware that she is potentially poisoning the baby’s brain? Or is she just too high to give a damn?

  • Eater of Worlds

    You know, I wonder about just the smoke itself. Second hand smoke from cigarettes has been found to cause deafness in adolescents. I wonder if they’d get something similar from marijuana.

  • mabelcruet
  • yentavegan

    Parents ask for my input concerning marijuana and breastfeeding, it is a common topic for discussion. I make it clear that I am not a medical professional and that I do not condone marijuana use while breastfeeding. I also remind them that they can not just pump and dump to eliminate the milk from being contaminated because the hallucinogen stays in the milk producing cells long after the parent feels straight . My most powerful tool against marijuana use and breastfeeding is when I tell them that all it takes is a nosy neighbor or disgruntled in-law to call CPS on you, test the infant and you will be found out….you could even lose custody.

  • CSN0116

    “Beautiful picture”?

    Looks like a scene from any ghetto college party I’ve ever been to. Just with a baby popped in it.

  • Gene

    I wonder what their response would be if she was using that pipe to smoke tobacco.

  • namaste863

    I’m a Social Worker. Photos like this are how I know I’ll always have a job.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      For reasons I’m not going to go into right now, I just want to say thanks for your work. Do/did you work with CPS? I know there is an extremely large amount of turnover with them.

      • namaste863

        Why thank you, I am very honored! No, I don’t work with CPS, thank the FSM. I have the training to, should I decide to at some point in the future. Right now my specialty is mental health.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      *Fist bump* Just finished my MSW. 🙂

      • namaste863

        Congrats to you! That’s a huge achievement. I have two semesters to go with mine. Where did you do your MSW?

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          University of Chicago. And yes, walking for that degree felt good! MSW programs are intense. Where are you?

          • anh

            my roomie at U of C was getting her MSW (10 years ago!) What a great cohort of people! I loved hanging out with her friends. I loved U of C in general

          • namaste863

            I’m at University of Southern California

  • mabelcruet

    But the magical superpower of mummy’s boobie milk will offset any damage, surely…?

  • Young CC Prof

    Want to have some pot? Have some pot, enjoy yourself, I don’t care. Do not:

    Consume while pregnant or breastfeeding

    Smoke or otherwise release it into the air around children, or around anyone who doesn’t want to partake. Even aside from the THC, Colorado hospitals are now seeing a strong relationship between exposure to marijuana smoke and respiratory problems in young children.

    Drive under the influence.

    Put it in sweets and allow children access to the sweets. Keep your special brownies locked up, kids can actually overdose.

    Let’s show that grownups can handle recreational drugs like growups.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Seriously. Why do so many people have a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea that rules and limitations apply to marijuana use if it’s going to be used safely and responsibly, just as they apply to alcohol use. I support full legalization of marijuana but that doesn’t mean that anything goes!

      I ironically think that legalization and, more importantly, demystification of marijuana will ultimately improve things. When people have no reason to turn pot into some kind of righteous cause for which they are holy crusaders, people might realize that it’s just another adults-only recreational drug to be used under certain restricted circumstances and in moderation. And they might realize that nobody thinks that a picture of you taking a bong hit is “beautiful,” any more than they think a picture of you knocking back a shot is. Jesus.

      • Well, people still share lots of pictures of themselves drinking a lot- shots, mixed drinks, beers, whatever- so I think that might be wishful thinking!

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          Yeah, but I don’t think they think those pictures are beautful! Lol

      • BeatriceC

        I voted for California’s recreational marijuana use proposition. I wasn’t going to because I have concerns about driving under the influence, and as of now there are no good, non invasive ways to test for sobriety, like there is for alcohol (I’m aware of the limitations of breathalyzers, but they’re accurate enough for the purpose they serve). The key point that caused me to vote yes was that a portion of the taxes collected would be earmarked for research into roadside sobriety tests.

    • Mel

      Flashback to high school teaching days:

      My students liked pot for the most part. In an attempt to get the class off-topic, students would ask me in the middle of a lesson if I thought smoking pot should be illegal.

      My response was that I thought smoking pot was a bad idea.

      Without fail, said student would launch into a tirade about how pot and tobacco were very similar and…….

      I interrupt the student: Smoking tobacco is a bad idea, too. It’s not a morality thing: it’s a physiology thing. Human lungs are not built to inhale burning particles of plant material. I’d have the same objections to you walking outside, rolling a bunch of oak leaves into a cigar and smoking that – which I also don’t recommend. Other questions? ‘K. Moving on……

    • Gæst

      Can you come and deliver this lecture to my next door neighbor? She’s actually a very nice older woman, but on a regular basis someone in her home smokes up a weed storm and the smell gets into my apartment something awful. It was shortly after we moved here that my son was first diagnosed with asthma (not saying it *caused* it outright with a strong family history, but it sure as hell seemed to trigger it), and my own asthma flared up something awful. But she’s in the privacy of her own home and I have no legal recourse.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        Mom had this problem with a neighbor. Mom was allergic to the damned stuff. (Weird, I know)

        • Gæst

          I’ve learned that people can be allergic to very nearly anything. About the only thing I’ve never heard of is an allergy to water.

          • Sarah

            Is that not a thing too? I’m sure I’ve read about it in proleporn.

          • Nick Sanders
          • Gæst

            “It is sometimes described as an allergy, although it is not a true histamine-releasing allergic reaction like other forms of urticaria.”

          • Nick Sanders

            Picky, picky, picky 😛

  • Tigger_the_Wing

    I’m entirely in favour of all so-called ‘recreational’ drugs being fully legalised and available on prescription, so that doctors can advice people which ones are likely to do least harm, and in which doses, according to their particular health concerns/issues.

    I am totally against administering any drugs to any children without them being prescribed particularly for that child.

  • Cody

    Are you saying that there is a significant difference between consumption of alcohol while breastfeeding and smoking pot while breastfeeding? Because where I live, the government says you can safely have two units of alcohol and breastfeed. If there is a huge difference, do we know why? Is it because inhalation allows faster delivery to the bloodstream?

    I know absolutely nothing about this, but legalization is coming soon in my country, so I guess we all have to catch up on this information.

    • RubyRed

      From my understanding, weed is almost entirely fat soluble, whereas alcohol is soluble in fat and aqueous environments. So the proportion of weed metabolites would be higher than alcohol in milk, with its high fat content.

      • Cody

        Thanks for that information. It never occurred to me to research this.

    • Cody

      Okay, I just thought of something else. There have been occasional cases of people buying weed laced with fentanyl, haven’t there? I guess if you grow your own, then you don’t have to worry about it. I have been realizing lately, that the drugs we did way back when could probably not be trusted now. There are just so many scary stories of overdose and death. Am I reaching here? Should mothers who smoke pot and breastfeed be concerned about that?

      • Cody

        I just did some brief investigation and there haven’t been any actual confirmed cases of what I just mentioned. Hysteria took over briefly because I’m an old lady and I know nothing about drugs in this day and age.

        • Dr Kitty

          I think that what happens is actually that someone will admit to their friends and family that they use cannabis, but hide their opioid addiction.

          Then when they overdose it’s “my weed was laced with Fentanyl!” not “I overdosed on Fentanyl because I’m addicted to it” .

          Treating addicts as criminals also does not encourage honesty about what you took, how much and where you got it from.

          The cannabis today has much, much higher THC levels than the stuff that was about 40 years ago. You have the war on drugs to thank- if the criminal sentencing is based on amount by weight in your possession, not by amount of THC, you want the strongest weed possible to get more bang per gramme.

          The internet means that even shut-ins and little old ladies who wouldn’t know the first thing about how to meet a drug dealer in real life can even have everything delivered to their door after a few clicks of their mouse and a bit-coin transaction or a dodgy online pharmacy.

          Where I live, the online postal option is particularly popular with middle class occasional users who don’t want to have any involvement with the paramilitaries who run almost all of the local drug business. These are people who knee-cap dealers who encroach on the wrong turf and customers who don’t pay up promptly. Having them know where you live is generally inadvisable.

          I learn lots of interesting things from my patients.

          • Cody

            That makes a lot of sense.

      • Steph858

        I seriously doubt that dealers would be wasting good expensive fentanyl by sprinkling it over (comparatively) cheap weed. That would be like making chicory go further by adulterating it with coffee …

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          There’s other cheap stuff you can lace weed with though, like PCP or crappy meth. And that does happen and it is worrisome.

          • Roadstergal

            I agree with Steph – I suppose it’s possible that someone would cut pot with something that costs more, but it’s highly unlikely. Pot is typically cut with shittier pot. :p Stems, shake.

            The biggest risk of pot is that the pot is too good. I like this, because it’s so on the nose, as an Old:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8FzGlgVGdo

          • Chi

            Actually it DOES happen here in NZ.

            Here a LOT of the weed is grown under supervision of gangs, who also manufacture ‘P’ or crystal meth as it’s more commonly called. They then lace the weed with P to get kids hooked on the harder drug. That initial cost is then more of an investment as you now have an addict aka a repeat customer.

            So whilst weed is plentiful here, you need to be very careful who/where you source it. If you don’t know who grew it, it’s probably best not to touch it.

            Which is why I wish our government would stop being so fucking backwards and just legalize the stuff already. It would take the business out of the hands of the gangs because ANYONE would then be able to legally grow and distribute it and they would be subject to consumer guarantee laws.

        • Eater of Worlds

          Fentanyl is super cheap. 2k for a kilogram of fentanyl that’s 50x stronger than morphine. Fentanyl strengths vary depending on which kind you’re making plus the market changes so I can’t really be more exact than that.
          A kilogram of heroin from Mexico is 64k.
          http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/28/dealers-are-shipping-fentanyl-from-china-for-a-fraction-of-the-cost-of-heroin/

          Even with the new fentanyl bans they will just slightly change it and ship out more, or just ship it illegally. When fentanyl is used for medicine, it’s used in micrograms. A grain of fentanyl can be fatal to a person shooting up, and by grain, we mean like a grain of table salt. They don’t even open suspected fenatnyl packets because if it’s powdered and a bit goes flying, cop breathes it in, dead cop. So it could easily be sprinkled into someone’s pot without breaking the bank.

          • Steph858

            That genuinely surprises me. I assumed strong opiates = sky-high prices. Also, weed can be grown in a loft/shed/warehouse etc (even out in the open in temperate-to-warm climates) so doesn’t need to go through risky border crossings to get to the end user, so I thought the hazard pay aspect of the price would also be lower. Shows how au fait I’m not with the illicit substances scene …

            This makes all those scenes in stoner comedies where a first-time user smokes too much weed and asks his friends to call an ambulance because he thinks he’s overdosing only to be told, “Nope. You can’t die of a weed overdose so we’re not risking legal trouble by calling the authorities just cause you can’t handle your weed.” Way more sinister in retrospect …

            Which is one more reason to decriminalise drugs. How many lives could have been saved if overdosing users’ friends hadn’t put off calling an ambulance till it was too late for fear of getting in trouble with the cops?

    • CanDoc

      Yes. There is a huge difference between marijuana and alcohol with regards to breastfeeding:
      1) Alcohol exists in lower concentrations in maternal breastmilk than in maternal blood.
      2) Alcohol is dispersed quickly by the body (within hours), whether by the mother or the baby who consumed breastmilk containing small amounts of alcohol.
      Contrast:
      1) THC is concentrated in breastmilk at levels 6-10x higher than maternal blood levels. So the baby gets MORE pot than the mom.
      2) THC concentrates in the fetal brain tissues.
      3) THC takes *weeks* to be metabolized out of the fetal body (and brain).

      • Cody

        What do you think the plan will be to tackle this issue when pot becomes legalized in Canada? Will there be public health initiatives aimed at educating women about this? Warnings on packaging and such?

        • Nikalix

          It would make sense to have at least health warnings similar to tobacco on the packaging and campaign similar to alcohol for pregnant women.

          It make sense to legalize but it also make a whole lot of sense to keep pounding the message that legal does not mean harmless.

          Education is essential.

  • ArmyChick

    But but…at least she is breastfeeding.

    You know some lactivist will say that. It’s coming.

    • evidencebasedbreastfeeding

      Ah now, once someone lent me a copy of one of Jack Newman’s books (now, I really, really cannot remember which one). I accidentally flipped over a random page and aha! it was about marijuana and breastfeeding. The whole tone of it was pretty much, go ahead light up! it’s fine! There were no cautions/caveats that I could see. I was so horrified I just slammed the thing shut and pushed it as far away from myself as possible. (Partly, the fact he is an MD. and is such a fan of cosleeping. And cosleeping risk with intoxicants – with respect to SIDS outcomes – is so high. And as far as I could tell there was nothing there about cosleeping risk. Or, the importance of making sure your baby was with a safe carer while you were “high” and everything is washed out of your system. And the issue of cannabinoids being stored in fat and the fat going into your milk. And then impacting on baby’s brain development. Etc. Etc. Etc. Oh, and just smoke in general (cannabis mixed with tobacco) and second hand smoke risks on baby’s health.
      Just don’t ask me which book it was. It might have been an old edition. Maybe. Of something.
      But you know, breastfeeding mums do need to have fun as well.

  • Roadstergal

    Oregon? Let me guess, no vaccines or Vitamin K because ‘toxins.’

    • Chi

      I’m also cynical enough to expect that if she DID vaccinate that poor baby, any neurological problems/delays will be blamed on them as vaccine injury rather than on the more likely culprit – mom’s pot use whilst breastfeeding.

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    Good heavens. Pot is relatively safe, for an intoxicant, but if you shudder at the old practise of putting a couple drops of whiskey on a teething kid’s gums, you probably shouldn’t be imbibing in pot while you breast feed. Pot seems to be one of those things that are oversold by both sides.