Cannabis Use During Pregnancy

joints_shutterstock-52960849The Canadian government plans to legalize cannabis by July 1, 2018. With the impending legalization of cannabis, it is important to note that the legal use of cannabis does not necessarily make it safe. There is no known safe amount of cannabis use during pregnancy.

Currently, there is limited Canadian data about the prevalence of cannabis use during
pregnancy. Cannabis use among women in Canada is on the rise, with approximately
11% of women of childbearing age reporting cannabis use in the past year according to
Health Canada (2013). Cannabis use is high among young women and men of
childbearing age; 29.7% of individuals age 20-24 years report past year use. It is
estimated that about 5% of pregnant women use illicit drugs during pregnancy, though it
is not known what percentage use cannabis specifically.

Research on cannabis use during pregnancy demonstrates some potential negative
outcomes associated with heavy use (one or more joints per day). Cannabis use during
pregnancy may:

• Affect the ability to become pregnant as a result of changes in the
menstrual cycle for women and lower sperm count and poorer sperm
quality in men,
• Increase the risk of preterm birth,
• Lead to lower birth weight of the baby,
• Be associated with longer-term developmental effects in children, adolescents, and adults including decreases in memory function, attention, and reasoning and problem solving skills, and increases in hyperactive behaviour and future substance use.

It is important to note that most of the current research evidence presents findings of
studies where cannabis use was administered by smoking. Little is known about
exposure through other routes of use. Current evidence is also limited

Current evidence is also limited by: reliance on self-report, the presence of cofounding factors, and small samples of women who use cannabis prenatally. While more research is needed, both in quantity and quality, it is prudent to advise pregnant women and women of childbearing age of the potential long-term adverse developmental and behavioural effects associated with cannabis use during pregnancy.

For more information about cannabis use during pregnancy, please visit:
alc_reduction/RisksOfCannabis_A30-E.pdf or

For more information about the Canada FASD Research Network, including other policy documents about FASD and substance use during pregnancy, please visit:


Leave a Reply