Much of the media attention in the election was on the struggle for control of the U.S. Senate and House, but Focus on the Family was also watching other ballot measures because of their effects on children and families. Four states had propositions dealing with marijuana on the ballot; the results are in:
- Michigan voters legalized recreational marijuana.
- Missouri voters approved the use of medical marijuana.
- Utah legalized the use of medical marijuana.
- North Dakotans voted down a proposition to legalize recreational marijuana.
Michigan became the 10th state to legalize marijuana, while 24 states now allow medical marijuana. As you'd expect, more marijuana availability leads to more use – and abuse. And that's bad news for babies, who can be victims of their mother's drug use.
Sadly, the vote that will likely lead to more drug-affected infants came just one day after a new letter, published in JAMA Pediatrics, showed an increased use in marijuana among pregnant women between 2002 and 2013. The study confirms other reports of increased marijuana use during pregnancy, and the authors pled with pregnant women not to use the drug.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discourages women from using marijuana while pregnant, stating that the chemicals in the drug pass directly from the mother to her developing baby and may affect the child's development and birth weight. After birth, the group notes that marijuana "may affect a mother's ability to properly care for her baby."
The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes other possible risks, including a greater risk of stillbirth, possible problems with the infant's neurological development and learning difficulties in school. Mothers who use marijuana while breast feeding may also affect their child's brain development.
To educate and equip yourself, your family and your church about this subject, read our series, Marijuana: The Big Picture. Our Family Q & A also offers Perspectives on the Legalization of Marijuana and Facts About and Perspectives on Medical Marijuana.
If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana or other chemical dependency, Focus on the Family offers Counseling Consultation and Referrals.