STUDY FAVOURS POT SMOKING IN PREGNANCY Some people might be shocked at the idea of pregnant women smoking marijuana to deal with the nausea that comes with pregnancy. But a UK-based medical publication, Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, has taken the idea seriously and published a study conducted by the Vancouver Island Compassion Society on the topic. The Victoria-based society, which provides medicinal marijuana to people suffering from various illnesses, recently completed the study that examines the therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis for nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy. The study argues that marijuana is an effective method to deal with nausea and vomiting with pregnant women. "It's an area that without a doubt is going to be a bit more controversial as an area of research," said Phillipe Lucas, director of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall said that marijuana likely is an effective treatment for dealing with nausea and vomiting with pregnant women. "But I don't think I'd recommend smoking marijuana in pregnancy," he said. There are concerns among some in the medical profession that marijuana could cause difficulty in terms of the development of the baby's brain, Kendall said. As well, it's possible that a low birth weight could result from a pregnant woman smoking the substances found in marijuana leaves, he said. "So I wouldn't recommend smoking anything during pregnancy," Kendall said. Lucas conducted the research with B.C. Compassion Club Society researcher Rielle Capler, University of B.C. professor Patricia A. Janssen and University of Victoria sociologist Rachel Westfall. The study was prompted by a request from Westfall who approached the Vancouver Island Compassion Society to find out how she could gain access to cannabis to conduct a study on how it might address nausea with pregnant women, Lucas said. "I knew right away that, that was simply going to be an impossibility," he said. There's no way, Lucas said, that the federal government would allow a clinical trial on determining if marijuana could effectively treat nausea and vomiting with pregnant women. That said, Lucas decided to move forward with a survey/study to determine if women who smoked marijuana while they were pregnant found that it dealt with the nausea and vomiting. The survey shows that 92 per cent of respondents considered marijuana to be either "extremely effective" or "effective" as a therapy for nausea and vomiting (or morning sickness). The study also focused on a particularly severe form of nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy called hyperenesisgragidarum. "It's characterized as extremely severe nausea that affects two per cent of women who go through pregnancy," Lucas said. As it currently stands, there aren't any effective pharmaceutical treatments available to treat that condition, he said. The study also focused on how effective marijuana is in treating nausea in general. The vast majority of respondents indicated that marijuana is an effective therapy for nausea (93 per cent), vomiting (75 per cent) and as an appetite stimulant (95 per cent). At the same time, the suggestion that marijuana is an effective treatment for nausea is apparent from talking to clients at the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, Lucas said. "It's something that we see - everyday."