AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) —April 1st was a big day in New Mexico, it’s when recreational cannabis was legal to sell.

While cannabis and marijuana is still illegal in Texas, experts say that bordering cities will still make up a significant portion of cannabis sales.

While many Texans will venture over the state line to buy, Dr. Teresa Baker from the InfantRisk Center at TTUHSC says Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a psychoactive drug with multiple effects including euphoria, mood changes and hallucinations. Its active ingredient is delta-9-THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC), which acts on the CB1 cannabinoid receptor. THC is highly lipid-soluble which explains its high concentrations in brain and body tissues. Small to moderate doses are stored in tissues for long periods up to 2-3 weeks.

THC is indicated for nausea and appetite stimulation during chemotherapy and for HIV patients. Chronic cannabis use may cause depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder in adolescents and adults.

Cannabis has an enormous affinity for milk and produces a milk/plasma ratio of 8, although the levels in milk are generally considered subclinical. THC crosses the placenta readily, and there is increasing evidence that it may increase rates of growth retardation and adverse neurodevelopment following prenatal exposure.

One report suggests that THC may produce changes in certain hormones by inhibiting prolactin, growth hormone, and thyroid-stimulating hormone secretions as well as stimulating the release of corticotropin.

Although scientists are still learning about the effects of marijuana on developing brains, studies suggest that marijuana use by persons during pregnancy could be linked to problems with attention, memory, problem-solving skills, and behavior in their children later in life.

Marijuana may be bad for your baby no matter how you use it—this includes smoking, vaping, dabbing, eating or drinking, and applying creams or lotions to the skin.

The potential health effects of using cannabidiol (CBD) products during pregnancy are currently unknown.

If you are using marijuana and are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor.

One study indicated an increased incidence of reduced head circumference in young adolescents (9-12 years of age) who were exposed in utero to heavy marijuana use. Prenatal exposure resulted in a higher rate of low birth weight in infants and childhood leukemia. Recent studies have suggested a reduction in long and short-term memory retrieval and retention in children exposed to prenatal cannabis. These children were also weak in planning, integration, and judgment skills.

The health effects of a breastfeeding person’s use of marijuana on their infant or baby are not yet fully known. We do know that chemicals from marijuana can be passed to a baby through breast milk. THC is stored in body fat and is slowly released over time, meaning a baby could still be exposed even after a person has stopped using marijuana. Most studies suggest a significant absorption in infants following exposure via breastmilk. While breastfeeding, it is

important to know that breastmilk can contain THC for up to six days after use. This THC may affect a newborn’s brain development and result in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences.

Additionally, marijuana smoke contains many of the same harmful components as tobacco smoke. Neither marijuana nor tobacco products should be smoked around a baby or children.

In summary, there is increasing concern about the use of marijuana or other similar products in pregnancy and in breastfeeding mothers. Data continues to suggest that cannabis may produce long-term sequelae, such as reduced cognition and changes in mood and reward.10 Both human cohort studies and studies in animals clearly suggest that early exposure to cannabis is not benign and that cannabis exposure in the perinatal period may produce long-term changes in behavior and mental health.

While the effect of cannabis on infants from breastfeeding mothers is limited, cannabis use in breastfeeding mothers should be strongly discouraged. Thus, in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, this drug should not be viewed as safe.

Mothers should be strongly advised to avoid any form of THC while pregnant and breastfeeding. Mothers found positive for THC in urine screens should be strongly advised to avoid continued exposure to this drug while breastfeeding and should be counseled that continued exposure of their infants to cannabis may produce severe long-term neurobehavioral consequences.

InfantRisk Center

At Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center 1 (806) 352-2519