The purpose of this practice resource is to help health care providers facilitate conversations on cannabis use during pregnancy and lactation using a harm reduction approach that is women and person-centered, trauma informed, and culturally safe. This resource reviews the current evidence of cannabis use in pregnancy, the effects of cannabis use on pregnancy and lactation, and how to discuss cannabis use during pregnancy and lactation with your patients and clients.
On October 16, 2018, the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) was enacted, establishing a framework for the possession, distribution, sale and production of cannabis in Canada.(1) Cannabis is defined in the Act to include marijuana, hashish, hash oil or any other preparation of the cannabis plant.(1)
In 2016, 16.9% of Canadian women between the ages of 15-44 reported past year use of cannabis which was an increase from the self reported 12.6% in 2015. (2) In British Columbia (BC), approximately 3.5% of pregnant women and individuals reported cannabis use to their health care provider in 2016. This means that over 1,500 women in BC reported cannabis use. (3)
With the legalization of cannabis, health care providers may notice an increase in self-reported cannabis use during prenatal visits as a result of increased access to cannabis and reduced stigma associated with recreational cannabis use. Therefore, health care providers have a critical role during this time to provide information on the health effects of cannabis use during pregnancy and lactation. It is recommended that obstetrical care providers use this resource to start having regular conversations about cannabis use with women and individuals contemplating pregnancy during their prenatal visits.
(1) Parliament of Canada. Cannabis Act; 2018.Available from: http://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-45/royal-assent
(2) Statistics Canada. (2016a). Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey: summary of results for 2015. Ottawa, Ont.: Author.