Marijuana & Pregnancy – A Toolkit for Medical Professionals

This toolkit is meant for health care providers seeking to educate women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant about the risks associated with marijuana use during pregnancy.

Download our co-brandable poster and fact sheet for patients


Did you know?

Marijuana is the dependent substance used most commonly during pregnancy.

Marijuana & Pregnancy – Facts for Health Care Professionals

The problem with current research on marijuana & pregnancy:

Short-Term Effects on the Body

Short-Term Effects on the Brain

Did you know?The chemicals in marijuana, such as THC, are carried readily across the placenta.

Prenatal marijuana use could result in a disruption in brain development as cannabinoid receptors have been identified in fetal brain and placenta.

Why do women use marijuana during & after pregnancy?

The most common reasons are a belief that marijuana will:

Women who admitted to using believe marijuana is safe when compared with other substances. Many dispensaries across the county advertise the safety of using marijuana during pregnancy.

Current research suggests using marijuana during pregnancy can result in

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While there is some research on marijuana use during pregnancy and childhood development, much more is needed to understand its long-term effects.

Facts About Marijuana Use Before, During and After Pregnancy

Marijuana & Fertility

Individuals who are trying to get pregnant should be advised to not use marijuana. Long-term marijuana use may

  • Lower the number and mobility of sperm
  • Disrupt the female menstrual cycle
  • Decrease egg implantation
  • Decrease the success of an in vitro fertilization procedure

Marijuana and Breastfeeding

The dangers of marijuana use while breastfeeding include:

  • THC passes from the blood into breastmilk
  • There may be up to eight times more THC in breast milk than in a mother’s blood.
  • THC and other cannabinoids are stored in fat cells and  slowly released back into the bloodstream. This means cannabinoids may still be in the blood and passed on to breastfeeding baby after the mother has stopped using..

Babies exposed to THC through breastmilk may exhibit

  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced muscular tone and poor sucking, impacting breastfeeding success
  • Decreased infant motor skills development
  • Problems with brain development, behavior, and mental health

CBD use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding

While CBD is known for its non-psychoactive properties and medicinal aid, there is no comprehensive research studying the effects of CBD on the developing fetus, pregnant mother, or breastfed baby. However, current studies suggest concerns for using CBD during pregnancy.

  • Tested on animals, CBD caused problems with reproductive systems
  • Some amount of CBD transfers to baby through breastmilk
  • CBD products are potentially contaminated with other substances such as THC with known risks to mother and child
  • Other contaminants, such as pesticides, heavy metals and bacteria have been found in CBD products

Based on clinical studies in humans, risks to using CBD include:

  • liver toxicity
  • extreme sleepiness
  • harmful interactions with other drugs

Research Sources

Click here for a list of sources for this page

  1. Characteristics of Marijuana Use During Pregnancy — Eight States, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2017 Jean Y. Ko, PhD1; Kelsey C. Coy, MPH1,2; Sarah C. Haight, MPH1; Tamara M. Haegerich, PhD3; Letitia Williams, MPH1; Shanna Cox, MSPH1; Rashid Njai, PhD4; Althea M. Grant, PhD MMWR / August 14, 2020 / Vol. 69 / No. 32 US Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. CMAJ 2021 December 20;193:E1906-14. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.211236
  3. Is cannabis safe during preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding? Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Health, 2018 Cat.: H14-264/5-2018E-PDF ISBN: 978-0-660-27413-3 Pub.: 180234
  4. Marijuana Use in Pregnancy: A Review Rebecca Thompson, MD , Katherine DeJong, MD, Jamie Lo, MD Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2019 July ; 74(7): 415–428. doi:10.1097/OGX.0000000000000685.
  5. Thinking about becoming pregnant? Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Health, 2018 | Cat.: HP35-114/1-2018E-PDF | ISBN: 978-0-660-27813-1 | Pub.: 180309
  6. What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding | FDA