DENVER (CBS4) – Is it safe to smoke pot and breastfeed?

Now that marijuana is legal doctors are concerned about pregnant and breastfeeding women using pot because the negative effects could be passed on to their babies. It’s the reason why the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is launching a campaign specifically focusing on moms.

Jenny Poulos is a busy mother of two young children. Her son Asher is 3. His sister Elora is 4 months old. Poulos says in the time between the two children were born, there was a big difference in the education she received at the hospital.

“Both the pediatrician and nurse made sure to mention to me that not only alcohol but now how marijuana would have an effect on my breast milk if I chose to nurse,” Poulos said.

She was surprised. On the top page of Paulos’ take-home packet from Lutheran Medical Center is a question and answer sheet educating moms about marijuana, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Dr. Larry Wolk of the state health department says pot is commonly viewed as the lesser of evils now that it’s legal. He says people are viewing it as, “Well, I’m not smoking, drinking, or I heard that marijuana is safer.” Wolk says it’s not safer.

Wolk is also pediatrician. He says pot education with breastfeeding moms will be their focus for CDPH this summer.


The current Good to Know Colorado campaign will soon show mothers how pot’s main ingredient, THC, passes through the placenta and even into breast milk.

“THC is deposited in the fat cells,” Wolk said. “It has the potential to harm the baby.”

Poulos breast fed both her children. She knows there’s a lot of fat in breast milk.

“You’re passing that (THC/fat) directly into you your baby and they could have a positive drug test,” which she says is scary to her.

CBS4's Jennifer Brice talks with Dr. Larry Wolk (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Jennifer Brice talks with Dr. Larry Wolk (credit: CBS)

Wolk says because the medical words don’t yet know the long-term effects and THC hasn’t been studied or researched previously, it’s not worth the risk. Wolk says what we do know so far is that marijuana can cause problems with motivation, memory and act as a trigger for mental issues like schizophrenia.

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Because THC is stored in fat, a mother could stop using marijuana, but weeks later it’s still in her body and can still be passed on to her child.

Poulos applauds her hospital for providing moms with the facts about pot, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“Most people don’t have the facts,” she said. “I didn’t.”

If there is suspicion that a pregnant or breastfeeding mother is using any substance, even legal pot, and her baby tests positive for it, doctors are obligated to report that to Social Services. It could also lead to child abuse charges.

Jennifer Brice is a reporter with CBS4 focusing on crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Jenn.


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