Health warning labels on Michigan marijuana products gains traction

Medical marijuana warning

LANSING, MICH. - As the state prepares to begin accepting license applications from people who want to grow and sell medical marijuana, legislation has advanced that would require  warning labels on marijuana products.

The state House on Wednesday approved a bill requiring marijuana products to carry a warning that use by pregnant or breastfeeding women may result in birth complications or negative long-term effects for the child.

House Bill 5222 was approved by a 104 to 6 vote; it now advances to the state Senate for consideration.

On Friday, the state will begin accepting license applications from people who want to start a medical marijuana business. Applications are being accepted from people who want to grow, process, sell, transport or test marijuana.

Providing a warning label on marijuana products is necessary because women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may use marijuana to treat such conditions as morning sickness, said state Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, who sponsored the bill.

“We’re seeing more and more marijuana use by pregnant women, despite multiple studies finding its use is harmful for children,’’ he said. “Marijuana, alcohol and tobacco use can lead to low birth rate and certain developmental disabilities in newborns. We should label marijuana to remind pregnant mothers of the risks.’’

Under the bill, the health warning would be printed in clearly legible type, surrounded by a continuous heavy line.

Research provided by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists indicates the potential for harm to the developing brain, according to a legislative analysis of the bill.

“Some studies show that children exposed to marijuana before birth had ‘lower scores on tests of visual problem solving, visual-motor coordination and visual analysis’ than children who were not exposed,’’ according to a report from the House Fiscal Agency.

“In addition, exposure to marijuana before birth is also ‘associated with decreased attention span and behavioral problems,’’’ the report says.

Both the ACOG and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that marijuana be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The American Medical Association in 2015 called for warning labels on marijuana products saying use of marijuana during pregnancy and breastfeeding could be harmful to babies.

A handful of states, including Alaska, Washington and Colorado, require warning labels telling consumers that marijuana should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

“Marijuana is marketed as a safe treatment for many illnesses and conditions, including morning sickness, but it also has its obvious negative effects,” Albert said in a news release. “There is no greater responsibility than to protect the future for Michigan’s children. We can help preserve that with a simple label.”

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