DENVER -- We've learned a lot about marijuana in Colorado over the last few years, but industry leaders say little is still known about the impact of marijuana consumption while a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding.
Now, a new study aims to test the effects of THC on a mother's milk. The study focuses on moms who have given birth recently.
"You have to be breastfeeding within the first six months that the baby was born," said Indra Lusero, with Elephant Circle, a Colorado reproductive justice organization that is helping with the study.
The study is being conducted by Dr. Thomas Hale and his team at the Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Hale’s past research includes the effects of medications on a mother's milk - from aspirin to cancer medications.
"We helped to ensure that [the study] had protections so that people who participated will be 100 percent confidential," Lusero said.
Right now, the scientists are seeking participation from new moms.
"I'd say at this point it's trickling in. We'd like to see it more rolling in," said Lusero.
Once participating moms sign up, they get the milk sample kit from a center in Wheat Ridge, then they come to the Stone marijuana shop in Denver and present a card for the specific strain of pot.
"And that would be this Prezidential Kush," said Bekah Burnett, the manager of Stone Dispensary. Burnett says the strain and amount are closely regulated: just a tenth of a gram.
"I just thought it would be really cool to be a part of something like that," Burnett said.
It's important to make the distinction that participating moms don't smoke while breastfeeding.
"During the study you will actually not be breastfeeding your child. You will use marijuana and then pump breast milk," Lusero said.
The milk is then sent to a lab at Texas Tech to be studied for how THC metabolizes in the milk.
Mothers use the marijuana, pump one-time and they are done.
"This is significant research,” Lusero said. “There's a lot that we don't know. We have reason to be concerned about transmitting a drug to an infant through breast milk."
That’s why industry pros say the study is so important.
"I'm not sure that I approve of people smoking and breastfeeding," Burnett said. "I don't think kids should be smoking. I think there's a reason you have to be 21 and up to smoke."
If you’d like to participate, you can reach out to Lusero via Elephant Circle at firstname.lastname@example.org.