Virtual care news and views

Professional Learning Series May 25, 2018

Weeding out the evidence: Marijuana use during pregnancy and lactation

Changes in legislation around recreational marijuana use are right around the corner. What patient questions will healthcare practitioners need to be ready to field?

Like, Mary Jane, a 24-year-old single mother who is new to your practice. She is 12 weeks pregnant and experiencing severe nausea, vomiting and decreased appetite. She informs you that she started using marijuana with a “vape pen” a few weeks ago after she saw some information on Facebook about the benefits of marijuana.

She said she knows it will be legal soon and wonders if you can prescribe it for her. She really feels that it has helped and she is finally able to eat for her baby.

The above scenario is just one illustration of the types of questions that may surface from patients.

As Dr. Alison Shea, a leading expert from Mount Sinai Hospital’s Perinatal Mental Health Program, notes in her webcast Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Lactation: Weeding out the Evidence, part of OTN’s Professional Learning Series, it’s important to separate the myths from the facts. In short, just because it’s legal does not mean marijuana is safe, nor does the fact that it’s natural, nor does the fact that it’s prescribed for some patients as a medicine.

Dr. Shea reviews current trends in marijuana use in women, the potential effects of marijuana on perinatal outcomes, and the counseling of women using marijuana/cannabis during pregnancy and lactation. The webcast also outlines the changes in legalization of marijuana in Canada and reviews possible long-term effects of in utero exposure.

To find out Dr. Shea’s recommendation for addressing the above scenario, and others, check out the webcast. Other Professional Learning Series events are also available on a variety of topics.

About the author: Gillian Wansbrough is a writer and the editor of Connected, as well as manager of communications at OTN.