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High-potency marijuana, and the synthetic form of the drug, known as “K2” or “Spice,” can harm a developing embryo’s brain, a new study concludes. Many pregnant women are unaware of the risk, according to HealthDay.

The drugs can affect the brain as early as two weeks after conception, according to researchers at Texas A&M University. Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug among pregnant women, they note in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis.

Exposure to high-potency or synthetic marijuana early in pregnancy can lead to anencephaly, a condition in which infants are born without large parts of their brain or skull, the researchers found. Early prenatal marijuana use also leads to attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities and memory problems in toddlers and 10-year-olds, and aggression, anxiety and depression in adolescents.

“The emergence of bioengineered crops and novel, medicinal marijuana strains, means that marijuana is no longer what it used to be in the 1970s and early 1980s,” study co-author Delphine Psychoyos said in a journal news release. “Some new, high-potency strains, including some medicinal marijuana blends, contain up to 20 times more THC, the psychoactive constituent of marijuana, than did ‘traditional’ marijuana,’” she said. “Furthermore, with the emergence of dispensaries and Internet websites, high potency marijuana and Spice products are now readily available to the general population.”


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