Non-medical cannabis, pregnancy, and breastfeeding: The facts
This article and its content relate to non-medical cannabis use only.
While research into the effects of cannabis consumption during pregnancy is still ongoing, emerging evidence suggests there is currently no definitive safe limit of cannabis for pregnant women. Consuming cannabis in any form during pregnancy may carry health risks to the fetus, as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—one of its most common cannabinoids—can cross the placenta and may impact the child’s development.
While results are still inconclusive, there is data to suggest that cannabis consumption during pregnancy:
- Can lead to a lower birth weight
- May be associated with developmental effects in children and youth later in life
- May be associated with increased risk for future problematic substance abuse
Women who are pregnant are also advised to avoid being in a room with people who are smoking cannabis because of the potential effects of second hand smoke.
The chemical compounds in cannabis, like THC, may be accumulated in breastmilk and can be passed through breastfeeding. While the exact effects of such exposure are unknown, studies show that it may lead to health or behavioural problems in children. As well, babies who have been exposed to cannabis through breastmilk may become drowsy and have a hard time latching properly.
As legalization opens doors for more in-depth research, scientists may be better able to investigate the potential effects of cannabis consumption for women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding, and the effects on their children.
Until more is known about the short and long-term effects, it is safest to avoid consuming cannabis while pregnant or while breastfeeding. Under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act it is an offence to allow a minor to consume cannabis in a place under the person’s control.