Cannabis teratology explains current patterns of Coloradan congenital defects- the contribution of increased cannabinoid exposure to rising teratological trends
Researchers have recently found that the frequency of major birth defects has increased in Colorado since the legalization of cannabis. It has been hypothesized that prenatal exposure to cannabis has caused these birth defects as the reported use of pain relievers, cocaine, alcohol, and tobacco did not increase. The specific birth defects that increased in frequency were atrial septal defect, spina bifida, microcephalus, Down’s syndrome, ventricular septal defect, and patent ductus arteriosus, but further research needs to be conducted to determine any causation.
The effect of prenatal exposure to cannabis on birth rates, birth outcomes, and the health of the mother is rather uncertain. Studies focussing on cannabis use during pregnancy are limited and what little has been reported is inconsistent. Currently, governing bodies of obstetricians advise that pregnant mothers cease any cannabis use. If someone who needs cannabis for a medical purpose that improves their quality of life becomes pregnant they need to seek out alternative methods of treatment, even if they are using cannabis because they are resistant to more common treatment methods. Research is needed so that pregnant women can safely continue their medication or so that alternatives can be found so that women do not need to suffer for the duration of their pregnancy and possible breastfeeding period.
The study is available for review or download here
Effects of Cannabinoid Administration for Pain- A Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression
A recent meta-analysis has found that cannabis is an effective treatment for those dealing with chronic pain. Researchers analyzed studies that compared cannabinoid-based therapies to placebos, concluding that those therapies served as an effective replacement or adjunctive therapy for more common pain relievers, such as opioids. Some studies included in the analysis disqualified the effectiveness of cannabinoids due to the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but the featured piece suggests future work should aim to synthesize cannabinoids that highlight cannabis’s analgesic effects while minimizing any psychoactive effects. Future research needs to discover more about the endocannabinoid mechanism within the body before this can occur.
The authors take care to emphasize the need for alternative pain therapies for opioids that are safer and more economically responsible. Currently, pain-related costs from patients, caretakers, and healthcare facilities continue to grow beyond $600-billion annually, as more people grow dependent on opioids. Cannabis is much more cost-effective, and even if it does not entirely replace opioid therapies and is simply an adjunct therapy, it has the potential to greatly reduce the amount of opioid prescribed and lower the necessary dose. Opioids are highly addictive whereas cannabis has a much better safety profile, yet cannabis is still deemed medically irrelevant by the federal government. More research needs to be conducted to reduce the chance of addiction, the opioid crisis in general, and reduce the economic burden of pain-related costs in the United States.
The Study is available for review or download here