Although marijuana has been made legal in over half the nation for both medicinal and recreational use, physicians are urging parents not expose their children to second-hand marijuana smoke, for fear that it will contribute to them having a variety of health conditions later in life.
It seems that a small study out of Colorado, where marijuana has been fully legal for years, shows that children of parents who use the herb are showing signs of the THC metabolite in their system. In fact, researchers, under the guidance of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, found that 75 percent of the children exposed to their guardian’s second-hand pot smoke showed traces of THC in their urine.
“There is a strong association between those who said there was someone in the home who used marijuana or a caretaker who used marijuana and the child having detectable marijuana levels,” lead study author Dr. Karen Wilson told NPR.
While there has not been much evidence collected throughout the years with respect to the risks involved with second-hand marijuana smoke, some health experts are of the opinion that even the smallest amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant that provides its high effects, can lead to developmental issues in children, especially in those babies whose mothers continued to smoke weed during pregnancy.
“Our hypothesis is that it is not good for kids,” Wilson said. “We strongly believe that once we do the research to document secondhand marijuana exposure that we will see there is a negative effect on children.”
The results of the latest study, however, appear to be more of a suggestion that marijuana “smoke” can be hazardous to children rather than the substance in general. After all, cannabinoids are found naturally in breast milk – providing protections against nasty bacteria and viruses that could compromise a newborn’s brand spanking new immune system.
Health professionals say that because most people consider marijuana to be a safe substance, they do not give much thought to its second hand smoke being as dangerous as the smoke from tobacco. Yet, while doctors admit there is a lack of evidence to prove this theory without a shadow of a doubt, they say there has to be some level of common sense at work, until the federal government provides the medical community with more opportunities for cannabis research.
“There is no reason to believe that it is any safer than tobacco smoke exposure,” Dr. David Beuther, associate professor of medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver, told NPR. Beuther went on to say that he believes secondhand marijuana smoke goes against the purpose of the human endocannabinoid system by actually increasing a child’s risk for respitory and heart problems in their adult lives.
Until there is more scientific data to discredit these claims, health professionals want to encourage people not to smoke marijuana around children.
“Get it out of the house and away from your baby,” Beuther said. “Not in the car, not in the home. If someone wants to smoke marijuana, they need to do it outside, far away from your baby or your child, because at this point we believe the adverse health effects are probably as bad as second-hand cigarette smoke.”
In short, don’t smoke around the kids and keep medicines out of children’s reach.