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HB 1053: No Medical Cannabis Cards for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women

Representative Fred Deutsch (R-4/Florence) and Senator Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) are proposing more government control of women… but this time, they may actually be listening to doctors.

Deutsch and Novstrup propose House Bill 1053, which would ban pregnant women and breastfeeding moms from getting medical cannabis cards in South Dakota. (I’d share details, but writing before breakfast, I find the LRC has not yet posted the bill text, but click on this link later to see if LRC catches up.)

We may not need a law to keep medical cannabis cards out of the hands of women in the family way. Patients can only get medical cannabis cards if their doctor says their use of medical cannabis is o.k. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists already discourages doctors from prescribing marijuana to women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or considering getting pregnant:

Because of concerns regarding impaired neurodevelopment, as well as maternal and fetal exposure to the adverse effects of smoking, women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use. Obstetrician–gynecologists should be discouraged from prescribing or suggesting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes during preconception, pregnancy, and lactation. Pregnant women or women contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in favor of an alternative therapy for which there are better pregnancy-specific safety data. There are insufficient data to evaluate the effects of marijuana use on infants during lactation and breastfeeding, and in the absence of such data, marijuana use is discouraged [ACOG Committee on Obstetric Practice, “Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Lactation,” Opinion #722, originally issued October 2017, reaffirmed 2021].

Note that ACOG is not saying medical cannabis definitely harms women and babies. ACOG is saying that we don’t have enough data to be sure medical cannabis is safe for women and the babies they are carrying or feeding and thus cannot encourage its use during pregnancy and lactation.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse agrees with ACOG that the science is thin on the health effects of marijuana use in general and that women and doctors should thus err on the side of caution and avoid marijuana use during pregnancy and lactation:

Some women report using marijuana to treat severe nausea associated with their pregnancy;99,100 however, there is no research confirming that this is a safe practice, and it is generally not recommended. Women considering using medical marijuana while pregnant should not do so without checking with their health care providers. Animal studies have shown that moderate concentrations of THC, when administered to mothers while pregnant or nursing, could have long-lasting effects on the child, including increasing stress responsivity and abnormal patterns of social interactions.101Animal studies also show learning deficits in prenatally exposed individuals.33,102

Human research has shown that some babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies display altered responses to visual stimuli, increased trembling, and a high-pitched cry,103 which could indicate problems with neurological development.104 In school, marijuana-exposed children are more likely to show gaps in problem-solving skills, memory,105 and the ability to remain attentive.106 More research is needed, however, to disentangle marijuana-specific effects from those of other environmental factors that could be associated with a mother’s marijuana use, such as an impoverished home environment or the mother’s use of other drugs.96 Prenatal marijuana exposure is also associated with an increased likelihood of a person using marijuana as a young adult, even when other factors that influence drug use are considered.107 More information on marijuana use during pregnancy can be found in the NIDA’s Substance Use in Women Research Report.

Very little is known about marijuana use and breastfeeding. One study suggests that moderate amounts of THC find their way into breast milk when a nursing mother uses marijuana.108 Some evidence shows that exposure to THC through breast milk in the first month of life could result in decreased motor development at 1 year of age.109There have been no studies to determine if exposure to THC during nursing is linked to effects later in the child’s life. With regular use, THC can accumulate in human breast milk to high concentrations.92 Because a baby’s brain is still forming, THC consumed in breast milk could affect brain development. Given all these uncertainties, nursing mothers are discouraged from using marijuana.98,110 New mothers using medical marijuana should be vigilant about coordinating care between the doctor recommending their marijuana use and the pediatrician caring for their baby [NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Can Marijuana Use During and After Pregnancy Harm the Baby?” 2021.04.13].

Deutsch and Novstrup appear to have found solid footing for this particular sally against the marijuana industry. Of course, if they were consistently concerned about women’s health, they would propose an amendment to this maternal health bill to prohibit the sale of alcohol to pregnant women. ACOG says there is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol while breastfeeding is not nearly as dangerous, as long as women don’t overdo it and wait a couple hours after an occasional drink before having baby belly up mama’s bar.


  1. larry kurtz 2023-01-11

    Overgodding is the Republican way so thank goddess for the tribal nations and their cannabis programs.

  2. O 2023-01-11

    I do not like when the legislature dictates what proper medical practice is to doctors. Legislating science is the providence of religion.

  3. Nix 2023-01-11

    Fred, Al, Jim Kinyon too…..
    Mothers milk leads to Heroin.
    George Carlin quote.

    Govern yourselves accordingly.

    Your welcome.
    No laws needed.

  4. Donald Pay 2023-01-11

    I have no problem with this bill, but it should be much, much broader. In my experience with South Dakota environmental regulation, Republicans don’t really care about protecting the fetus. They have spent decades refusing to set standards for drinking water and air quality based on impact certain chemicals have fetal life. Evidence of harm to the fetus is far more clear for these substances than for marijuana. Republicans seem are more concerned with controlling women’s behavior than in any real concern about fetal health. When LRC posts the actual wording of this bill, I would like to see a real look at an amendment that would broaden that bill out to other environmental parameters. This bill, of course, is a straight ban, which might not be appropriate for regulating various parameters of water or air quality, but the bill could be amended to require parameters be set to protect fetal life and health.

  5. larry kurtz 2023-01-11

    Glyphosate in the umbilical cord blood of infants is a-ok with Republicans but a safe, effective palliative is verboten. Toxoplasmosis poses a far more dangerous risk to infants and adolescents than cannabis ever will.

  6. e platypus onion 2023-01-11

    What stops women who get medical cannabis from getting pregnant?

  7. Nix 2023-01-11

    e platypus ,
    That would be the SDGOP if they
    could pass it.

  8. Loren 2023-01-11

    “… discontinue use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in favor of an alternative therapy.” Perhaps hydroxychloroquine or horse dewormer? Where did these gents get their medical degrees? I would say, let doctors practice and have them stick to their areas of expertise, but I’m not sure what that might be.

  9. Richard Schriever 2023-01-11

    Loren – their “area of expertise” is tromping on the neighbors’ grass.

  10. larry kurtz 2023-01-11

    Why not control women’s exposure to video lootery, Deadwood, sports betting, ag chemicals, sugary drinks and too many calories?

  11. All Mammal 2023-01-11

    I remember back when my little brother and I were a couple years shy of 21 and we needed someone with an ID to buy us beer. We somehow talked our older cousin into doing the deed. We laughed like a couple of mad hatters watching our 8 month pregnant, behemoth cousin walking across the Prairie Bottle parking lot with a case of 40 oz bottles of malt liquor. She was embarrassed, but a good sport. It is really a woebegone image now, especially because the legislature still doesn’t discourage selling alcohol to women with-child. That’s because it isn’t about the health of babies to them, it is about playing God. They hate it when women remind them of their station.

  12. e platypus onion 2023-01-11

    magat small gubmint compared to what? magats in control of congress in DC are working on more abortion restrictions since it was such a winning platform last November.

  13. Mark Anderson 2023-01-11

    Why cannabis when you can use Whiskey?

  14. Mark Anderson 2023-01-11

    Apart from that, the devil details. Would every woman have to take a pregnancy test before getting the card and one when getting the cannabis, every time?

  15. P. Aitch 2023-01-11

    HB 1053 rates a 2 of 10 because of inability to enforce. (I can imagine Deutsch and Novstrup wanting to inspect every woman with an MMJ card monthly to determine if they’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or have obtained abortion pills through the mail.)

  16. Vi Kingman 2023-01-11

    Do you think Trumpsmother smoked pot?

  17. O 2023-01-11

    How about ensuring pregnant women are guaranteed free health care and delivery in the great pro-life state of SD? That would be a great first step toward putting your money where your mouth is.

  18. ABC 2023-01-11

    So a pregnant woman can buy beer or rum but not medical cannabis?

    Will they require sperm bearing men NOT to carry a medical cannabis card? After all, it is their Soerm that starts the birth process, eh?

    Taliban is as Taliban does.

  19. Bob Newland 2023-01-11

    1053 is a solution looking for a problem. The mere fact that Deutsch’s and Novstrup’s fingerprints are on it should disqualify it from serious consideration.

    There is NO evidence that cannabis use by a pregnant woman is deleterious to her baby.

    There is a lot of evidence that Deutsch and Novstrup are deleterious to women.

  20. larry kurtz 2023-01-11

    Many of Mrs. Powers’ brood suffer from hideous maladies easily treatable with cannabis as therapy, right grud?

  21. bearcreekbat 2023-01-12

    ABC asks

    “Will they require sperm bearing men NOT to carry a medical cannabis card?”

    Perhaps they will do this now that science has established that

    “Sperm cells possess the same sort of odor receptors that allow the nose to smell, suggesting that swimming sperm navigate toward a fertile egg by detecting its scent, scientists have found.”,its%20scent%2C%20scientists%20have%20found.

    Indeed, this recent scientific discovery also suggests that because sperm cells share such characteristics they are indeed living beings, thus it would make sense for the legislature to at least draft an ultrasound bill for men, so that when a man gets frisky he must first run on down to the clinic where they can put a cathetor inside him to show him the little buggers before he actually decides to empty into a sock. This will help him see the little buggers and understand the seriousness of his next step. (Thanks to Sarah Silverman for this image).

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