DENVER -- An online group of more than 5,000 women say marijuana use helped them get through pregnancy. Now, some of them are telling their stories.
Last week, we reported on a study from Denver Health doctors who said the majority of dispensaries recommended cannabis to pregnant women who called and asked for help with morning sickness and other side effects.
In the process of that report, FOX31 found that there is a group of women who believe marijuana use is the only way they made it through pregnancy with a healthy delivery.
The self-described "CannaMamas" said most people are probably calling dispensaries because the stigma around marijuana and pregnancy has people too afraid to talk to their doctors. To try and get people to understand their point of view, a few CannaMamas decided to speak about their decision to use marijuana.
“We do call it a movement,” said Jeanna Houch, the founder of CannaMama Clinic, a company and group made up of over 5,000 women. “We help women who have chosen cannabis medicinally while pregnant and breastfeeding specifically.”
All three women FOX31 talked to have children and say they used cannabis during multiple pregnancies as medicine. They said it helped with morning sickness, appetite issues and other pregnancy side effects.
"I started having really bad complications due to my pregnancy that landed me in the hospital multiple times and I was told by an E.R. doctor [to] either figure it out or, most likely, I was going to lose another pregnancy,” Houch said.
“The cannabis would actually calm my stomach down enough to actually consume something and keep it down," said Yolanda Edwards, another CannaMama.
The CannaMamas say they smoked their marijuana as opposed to eating an edible because they already had trouble keeping food down.
FOX31 talked to a fertility specialist at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center to see whether there are any consequences to smoking marijuana while pregnant.
“Animal studies and some human studies have shown that marijuana has adverse affects on neurological development,” Fertility specialist Dr. Althea O'Shaughnessy said. “Kids who were born from mothers who consume marijuana have some developmental issues that point to the fact that the marijuana may have been implicated in causing these issues.”
The three CannaMamas who spoke with FOX31 said they have children between 2 and 15 years old.
“My kids are great,” CannaMama Lisa Hill said. “I’ve not seen one negative from the side effects, and it is something I did worry about.”
“My son is an honor student -- he’s in honors band and math," Houch said. “We do not find that commonality among CannaMamas that we have children with deficits. We don’t find that at all -- the opposite, actually.”
The moms know their stories provide anecdotal -- rather than scientific -- evidence.
“There haven’t been long-term studies on women who consume marijuana during pregnancy,” Dr. O'Shaughnessy said. She explained that other issues surrounding marijuana -- its effects on fertility, a baby's weight and stillbirths -- are still unknown.
Even with limited data, Dr. O'Shaughnessay says she would not advise women to use marijuana during pregnancy.
Meanwhile, the CannaMamas said they are up for a study and would love to help develop data on the subject. They said the decision to smoke was not taken lightly.
"Our movement is not to support just willy-nilly recreational cannabis consumption throughout pregnancy. It’s here to help women make a choice that they feel is safer than pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications," Houch said.
It's a decision the women said they will stand by despite what doctors say and despite people who do not agree.
“Cruel [people] often call us selfish [and] tell us we’re harming our children. They don’t even take the time to listen to our stories," Houch said. “Cannabis is not crack. Cannabis is not heroin. Cannabis is not alcohol."
“It’s about our children. It’s what’s best for them,” Edwards said.
“It’s family," Hill said.
The group said the next steps are to start getting legislators to hear their stories. They are hoping that will open the door for better patient-doctor relationships about marijuana.