DENVER, CO (KMGH/CNN) - Women may be getting mixed messages about cannabis use during pregnancy.
A new study shows many dispensary employees encourage moms-to-be to use marijuana to help with morning sickness.
However, doctors discourage using pot during pregnancy because of risk to the fetus.
The study used the mystery caller approach, with the caller saying something like this: "Hi, I'm eight weeks pregnant and feeling really nauseated. Are there any products that are recommended for morning sickness?"
Sixty-nine percent of the dispensaries contacted recommended cannabis to treat nausea in the first trimester.
"It was surprising and concerning to us because there are data that would suggest that cannabis can be harmful to the developing fetus," said Dr. Torri Metz, a high-risk obstetrician with Denver.
When researchers asked what product was recommended, one dispensary employee replied, “Technically with you being pregnant, I do not think you are supposed to be consuming that, but if I were to suggest something, I suggest something high in THC."
When a researcher asked another employee if she should check with a healthcare provider first, the employee responded: "I think that would be a smart choice. Try for someone that is liberal or pro-cannabis."
"We have a lot of rules, but one of the rules we do not have is to be a doctor," said Kristi Kelly of the Marijuana Industry Group.
The study points to the need for more training for dispensary staff, she said.
"It is very important that the dispensary employees clarify that they are not medical professionals and that they redirect either that patient or customer to also have conversation with their healthcare professional," Kelly said.
An employee at one of the dispensaries pointed out that labels are required on all cannabis products sold in Colorado.
"Personally, I wouldn't recommend that they consume marijuana ... because by law on our labels, we do have to say that there are health risks associated with the consumption of marijuana and pregnancy,” Amanda Talamantes of the Little Green Pharmacy said.
Findings from this study were published in the latest issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
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