Mixing cannabis and pregnancy isn’t a simple black and white choice. Yes, the safest choice is to not consume cannabis while pregnant, but we believe there’s more to the decision-making process and you deserve fact-based information so you can make the informed decision that’s best for you and your family. Make sure to check out all the linked resources for more information around using cannabis while pregnant.
Cannabis and Pregnancy
Not everyone will use cannabis while they’re pregnant, but there are valid reasons why women may consider it. Cannabis is used for many more things than just recreation, and so sometimes its benefits outweigh its potential risks, especially when considering the use of prescription medications.
For some people, cannabis is used as a form of medication, and to help treat existing mental or physical disorders. If you’re someone who uses cannabis in place of a prescription drug, this can mean that going off cannabis leads to you switching to that prescription. Before deciding whether or not to use cannabis in your pregnancy, start by weighing the pros and cons. These are things like:
Pros: Using cannabis throughout my pregnancy may let me keep my anxiety in check and be able to take care of myself.
Cons: Is using cannabis while pregnant potentially harmful to baby? Will it be more harmful than if I can’t properly take care of my health and wellness?
Obviously, there are many different things to consider when deciding whether or not to use cannabis, but you really have to trust your gut and do what feels best for you and your baby. Your health isn’t always black and white, so do your research, trust yourself, and choose what is best for you regardless of what other people say.
Cannabis and Pregnancy Research
When looking at different studies, make sure to consider all sides. A lot of the studies that have been published don’t give the full results of their findings, or are biased in their hypothesis or funding, and will only say what they want people to hear.
There are many different studies surrounding cannabis and pregnancy, and many of them will tell you not to use cannabis. It’s important when consulting any study to find out who did the study, and what the study is trying to accomplish. The studies and information that we’ve linked below are mostly open and honest, but we wanted to include the official recommendations from the CDC and Government websites as well. It’s important to further your research for a broader perspective.
If you want to know more about cannabis use during pregnancy, make sure to look at the sources we’ve linked below. There’s lots of information from different sources, so you can really see some different perspectives on cannabis use.
“Cannabis and pregnancy: Maternal child health implications during a period of drug policy liberalization” – Katrina Mark Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, United States and Mishka Terplan Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, United States.
This study focuses on the effects of cannabis on pregnant women in the United States. This seems like a well-done study, as they note that “risks should be neither overstated nor minimized, and the legal status of a substance should not be equated with safety.” The findings found no long-term side effects on babies exposed to cannabis in utero vs those who weren’t.
“Totality of the Evidence Suggests Prenatal cannabis Exposure Does Not Lead to Cognitive Impairments: A Systematic and Critical Review” – Ciara A. Torres School of Social Work, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States, Christopher Medina-Kirchner Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States, Kate Y. O’Malley Division on Substance Use, Department of Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, United States, and Carl L. Hart Department of Psychological Sciences, Swinburne University, Hawthorn, VIC, Australia.
This article from Forbes looks into a study done by the Frontiers of Psychology that critically reviewed studies from the past few decades. We appreciated their openness in how they narrowed down their finding based on inclusion criteria, sample size, length of time and follow up of the studies. They found that there have not been any statistically confirmed instances of long-term health issues in babies tied to cannabis use while pregnant.
Cannabis and Pregnancy – Dr. Rivera, Dr. Cataldo, and Dr. Alves on the Cannabis Science Podcast.
“Join Dr. Rivera, Dr. Cataldo, and Dr. Alves as we go in-depth to discuss the most recent research on cannabis use during every step of pregnancy. From fertility, conception, labour and breast-feeding what does science have to say about mothers (and fathers) that decide cannabis is for them. Although somewhat controversial, nothing is hidden from the listener. We put everything out there, decide for yourselves based on science what is good or bad for your specific situation.”
Marijuana Use and Pregnancy – CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This page on the CDC website discusses the potential risks of using cannabis while pregnant. They note that “although more research is needed to better understand how marijuana may affect you and your baby during pregnancy, it is recommended that pregnant persons do not use marijuana.”
Thinking About Using Cannabis Before or During Pregnancy? – Government of Canada.
This page is published by the Government of Canada, and takes the stance that there is “no known safe amount of cannabis use during pregnancy.” The information provided also acknowledges that more research needs to be done to fully know the effects of cannabis on pregnant people and their children.
What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding. – U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The FDA recommends against using any form of cannabis while pregnant. They do also note that any perceived risk of cannabis use in pregnancy and while breastfeeding are potential and not confirmed.
Legal Risks of Using Cannabis While Pregnant
In Canada, cannabis is legal for people ages 18 and older (19 and older in some provinces, including BC). This means that while it is legal for you to have it, we must remain responsible and aware to mitigate legal risks. If you are using cannabis, make sure to teach your kids about how it’s for adult use only – our blog post on talking to your kids about cannabis is a great place to start!
Canada Legal Risks for Cannabis and Pregnancy
The clear legal risks posed here in Canada are after your child is born, and there’s grey area when it comes to consuming while pregnant. This really leaves the decision in your hands, which is why we wanted to give you all the facts. One other thing to note is that consuming cannabis in playgrounds and other public spaces that normally have kids is illegal, so make sure to be aware of that if you’re planning on consuming outside.
United States Legal Risks for Cannabis and Pregnancy
In many US states, medical practitioners can, and often do, contact CPS when they suspect cannabis has been consumed during pregnancy. It is also common practice for many hospitals to drug test women while in labour to determine if cannabis has been used. If they find cannabis in your system they will likely call CPS and prohibit you from breastfeeding your baby as it’s considered child abuse.
Research Laws for Cannabis and Pregnancy in Your Particular Area
This is why it’s so important to look up the laws pertaining to cannabis in the region where you live; the regulations for cannabis in the United States vary greatly from Canada, and each individual province and state have their own laws and regulations. Overall, really make sure to keep cannabis smoke and products away from your kids, and make sure that anything you have is stored safely.
We have taken some time to compile a list of links that explains the laws in Canada and the US, as well as BC and individual states. Take a look below and become confident in your knowledge about your particular area and situation.
Cannabis – What’s legal? – Government of British Columbia.
This is the basics of what is legal in BC in regards to cannabis. It’s important to note that while cannabis is legal in Canada for everyone over the age of 18, using cannabis around your children has potential legal risks.
Cannabis Legalization and Regulation – Government of Canada.
This is very similar to the link above, but is done by the Government of Canada and covers all of Canada itself. Once again, it’s important to note the potential legal risks of using cannabis around your children.
This page focuses on what is actually legal cannabis, and encourages people to use medical and recreational dispensaries.
State Medical Cannabis Laws – National Conference of State Legislatures.
This site details the legality of cannabis in different states in the U.S. They update their information regularly so make sure to check it regularly.
Questions About Marijuana Legalization, Answered – Claire Hansen, Horus Alas, and Elliott Davis Jr. for U.S. News and World Report.
This news article gives a clear answer to which states have legalized cannabis. This article is also very good at answering frequently asked questions about the legality of cannabis, and seems very neutral in its answers.
Harm Reduction Strategies
It is agreed among medical professionals that smoking around young kids and pregnant women isn’t a great option, as it most often results in breathing in secondhand smoke. The advice we see given across the board is try to use less, and make sure that it is kept away from your kids, in a safe space they can’t or don’t know how to access.
If you choose to consume cannabis while pregnant it is recommended to opt for edibles or tinctures and avoid smoking if possible. If smoking is a must, go for cleaner alternatives like vaporizers. Also make sure that you’re buying clean and regulated cannabis, to be as safe as possible.
Make sure to check out some of the links below to learn more about harm reduction strategies. This is some helpful fact-based information told by well-informed people, so make sure to take a look.
Marijuana in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding – Drs. Sarah and Alicia on the She Found Motherhood Podcast.
“Drs. Sarah and Alicia discuss cannabis use in pregnancy, and marijuana in breastfeeding. They discuss reasons for use and what we know about cannabis and its effects on pregnancy and our newborn babies. They discuss harm reduction strategies when smoking marijuana in pregnancy or using cannabis edibles in pregnancy.”
“Evidence Brief Supporting Pregnant, Lactating, and Parenting People Who Consume Cannabis in Ontario” – McMaster University Health Forum.
This study is done by McMaster University and focuses on pregnant women in Ontario. This study is particularly interesting because they talk to pregnant people about cannabis use, and also use lots of data. The study found that more harm reduction strategies need to be put in place, and talks about how that can be done.
What You Should Know About Cannabis and Pregnancy – Unapologetic Mom’s Club episode with registered nurse, Kala Sanmartin
In this UM Club episode, we discuss cannabis use during pregnancy and labour, coming equipped to your doctor’s appointment with proper cannabis knowledge, and how to critically examine the studies that come up in research.
Ultimately, using cannabis while pregnant is your decision, and if it’s going to result in you being a happier and healthier person overall, then it may be what’s right for you. What’s best for you is not always best for everyone else, so it’s really an individual choice.
The best things to do are to consume it in a way that doesn’t involve smoke, and to limit its use to when you need it. Make sure to be up to date on the legal proceedings in your area as well. The best advice we can give is to do what you feel is right – you’re the mom of your baby, and you’re going to know what is best for the both of you!