Doctors Discuss Benefits and Risks of Cannabis Use During Pregnancy

 Editor’s note: This commentary is provided by the Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI) of Florida A&M University.

Is it safe for women to use cannabis before, during, and after pregnancy? That question elicited interesting and strongly held views from three medical doctors with expertise in obstetrics and gynecology, pediatric medicine, preventive medicine, and medical research.

It is worth noting that Florida’s medical marijuana law permits the use of low-THC medical marijuana during pregnancy. Still, such use must be under the care of a qualified medical marijuana physician. Adult use, or recreational marijuana, is illegal in Florida.

Dr. Felecia L. Dawson, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, says she believes “cannabis in pregnancy can be safe if it’s done properly,” while Drs. Charles Lewis and Kennessa W. Hugger warn expectant mothers to steer clear of it altogether.

Dr. Dawson practiced holistic gynecology, integrative, and functional medicine for more than 30 years in Georgia. Dr. Dawson maintains that “women, their herbalists, their midwives, and even their physicians have used cannabis in pregnancy, before pregnancy, and after pregnancy for thousands of years.”

She also mentions that a recent survey found cannabis to be more effective in treating hyperemesis gravidarum, or persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, than pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Lewis interjects and says, “Approximately 7% of women in the United States use marijuana during pregnancy, primarily for morning sickness.” Unfortunately, this is a time of very rapid development in the infant, so it’s actually a time of very high risk. Dr. Lewis has practiced medicine for over 25 years and is board-certified in public health and preventive medicine.

Dr. Dawson says that while her cautious approach to the healthcare of pregnant women includes the use of medical cannabis, she first encourages them to detox their systems and to “eat organically, breathe clean air and drink clean water, work on stress management, pregnancy massage, meditation, and therapy.”

Dr. Lewis and Dr. Hugger both agree that during pregnancy one should err on the side of caution by avoiding any form of cannabis use.

Visit to watch MMERI’s Conversations on Cannabis Virtual Forum featuring Dr. Charles Lewis, Dr. Kennessa Hugger, and Dr. Felecia Dawson discussing the safety of cannabis use during pregnancy and the potential impact on babies and toddlers who are exposed to cannabis before and after birth. For more information on medical marijuana and to sign up for the MMERI newsletter, go to

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Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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