NIH Study Suggests Using Cannabis While Trying To Conceive May Reduce Pregnancy Chances

MARYLAND:  Women who use marijuana could have a more difficult time conceiving a child than women who do not use marijuana, suggests a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Marijuana use among the women’s partners—which could have influenced conception rates—was not studied. The researchers were led by Sunni L. Mumford, Ph.D., of the Epidemiology Branch in NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The study appears in Human Reproduction.

The women were part of a larger group trying to conceive after one or two prior miscarriages. Women who said they used cannabis products—marijuana or hashish—in the weeks before pregnancy, or who had positive urine tests for cannabis use, were around 40% less likely to conceive per monthly cycle than women who did not use cannabis. The authors noted that although the findings suggest cannabis could affect women’s fertility, they should be tempered with caution as the study observed a relatively small number of cannabis users. However, the authors say their results suggest that women trying to conceive should exercise caution with cannabis use until more definitive evidence is available.

The researchers analyzed data from a broader study of more than 1,200 women ages 18 to 40 with one or two pregnancy losses. The women participated in the study for up to six monthly cycles while attempting pregnancy and throughout pregnancy if conception occurred. After enrolling in the study, the women responded to a questionnaire asking if they had used marijuana, pot, or hashish in the past 12 months, with responses ranging from never, rarely, occasionally, sometimes, often, to daily. Each woman also provided urine samples for analysis when they first entered the study and after six months if they did not conceive or at the time of positive pregnancy test if they conceived.

A total of 62 women (5%) either had a positive urine test or responded that they had used cannabis before conception.

For each monthly cycle, women who had used cannabis while trying to conceive were 41% less likely to conceive than non-users. Similarly, a smaller proportion of cannabis users than non-users became pregnant during the study—42% versus 66%. The authors found no differences in miscarriage rates between users and non-users who had achieved pregnancy.

The authors noted that, compared to non-users, cannabis users also had differences in reproductive hormones involved in ovulation. These differences could potentially have influenced their likelihood of conception. Specifically, users had higher levels of luteinizing hormone and a higher proportion of luteinizing hormone to follicle stimulating hormone.

The authors also noted that animal studies had found that cannabis use could alter the lining of the uterus, making it less likely an embryo to implant and establish a pregnancy. Until more information is available, the authors said, women trying to become pregnant should be aware that cannabis could potentially affect their pregnancy chances.

Reference
Mumford SL et al. Cannabis use while trying to conceive: a prospective cohort study evaluating associations with fecundability, live birth, and pregnancy loss. Human Reproduction. 2020. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deaa355

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD leads research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, enhance the lives of children and adolescents, and optimize abilities for all. For more information, visit https://www.nichd.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit https://www.nih.gov.

Growing Sustainable Profits With Cannabis

Dr. Richard Freeman, Ph.D.

We’re hearing the word “sustainable” a lot these days. It’s coming from activists and journalists, from politicians and the marketing agents, writers, anyone in public life. I hear it talking with friends. Sustainable agriculture, sustainable development, and sustainable living – I certainly use the word, myself.

So, when I use the term “sustainable,” I try to maintain a clear understanding of what I mean. And, really, it’s pretty straightforward. If we can keep doing it the way we’re doing it year after year, generation after generation, without running out of resources and trashing our living environment, then it’s sustainable. The details can add a world of nuance, but that’s the basic idea.

Growing cannabis sustainably means growing plants in ways that will keep working in the short term and long term while returning a profit. Sustainable business models work in the natural environment AND perform on the bottom-line. If we’re growing Cannabis and we’re doing it sustainably, then we’re going to stay in business, by definition.

Sustainable growing can reduce costs in the long-term and short-term, grow the kindest quality product, and sustain and preserve health in our own living environment. It benefits the growers, the consumers, and pretty much everyone else. Sustainability offers us a win-win-win situation. Assessing an operation for sustainability begins with analyzing energy-use and materials-consumption in the working environment, equipment and materials, and horticultural methods. And, it requires analyzing associated production costs. In assessing equipment and materials, direct impact on ecosystems is part of the picture, but so is “embodied energy” – the energy required to create these items.

Assessing methods means understanding how our growing techniques affect our environment. Are they life sustaining? Are they a source of throw-away costs? Do they degrade the quality of our goods? Sustainable responses include increasing efficiencies and “closing loops,” which both cut costs. If we can produce an equal or superior product for less money, then profits increase. If we save money by using super-efficient lighting without sacrificing quality and pay for the investment with the savings within a reasonable time frame, then why not? Closing loops means local-sourcing and re-using materials whenever we can – for instance recycling our bio-abundant soil mixes and composting vegetative residues (fan leaves and root balls) into valuable soil amendments. Or, closing loops could include developing nature’s “environmental services,” such as encouraging insects that kill pests. With some imaginative thinking and a little number crunching, we can pick the low-hanging fruit and benefit immediately.

When it comes to benefiting, who can argue with cutting costs, especially when the outcome includes better quality and value in the product? As the market becomes savvy to the benefits of healthy-grown plants – including the taste benefits – the value of sustainably grown Cannabis can only rise. People can taste fertilizer salts, and they can taste pesticides. Anyone who has tasted high-quality organic flowers will never go back to “chem pot” and they’ll pay premium for the good stuff. The same holds true for folks who eat herbal products or rub creams on their skin. As lab testing becomes the standard (and it will), the ability to detect chemical residues will improve. People will be able to tell the difference. And smell the difference. And customers will start asking for the good stuff. Sustainable, indeed.

In future posts, we’ll offer some more detail on ways to close the loops and increase efficiencies – and ways to grow Cannabis that maximize the benefits of good plant genetics while producing outstanding flowers.