Cannabis Use: Know the Facts

Updated January 2nd, 2019

Cannabis comes from the cannabis plant. Many people in Canada use cannabis occasionally. They use it to relax, feel high, for medical purposes and to help manage mental health symptoms. Cannabis can be: inhaled (smoked), swallowed (in food and drinks), placed under the tongue (strips and sprays), or applied on the skin (oils and creams).

Safety tip:
  • If you’re using cannabis to manage your stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health symptoms the best choice is to seek other supports. Talk to your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, Family Doctor Finder can help. Also see our information on Well-Being and Mental Health.

Even though cannabis is legal in Manitoba, there is no amount that is safe in fertility planning, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Cannabis use affects health, learning, relationships, children and parenting.

Cannabis and Sperm

Cannabis has been shown to reduce the number and quality of sperm which can make it more difficult for a couple to become pregnant.

Cannabis and Pregnancy

Cannabis use in all forms may affect the way your unborn baby’s brain develops.

This can result in mental health, learning and behavioural problems. Some of the effects, such as poor impulse control and hyperactivity, can last into adulthood.

Like tobacco, smoking cannabis reduces the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your unborn baby. This can result in slower growth of your unborn baby, premature birth, and a lower birth weight.

Safety tips:
  • Because there is no known safe amount cannabis in pregnancy, it is best to avoid it completely.
  • If you choose to use cannabis despite the risks, use as little as possible.

Cannabis and Morning Sickness

Some women use cannabis to treat morning sickness. There is no evidence that cannabis is useful for morning sickness. There are safer treatments, ask your health care provider to help find the best option for you. Also check out our article for tips on coping with morning sickness.

Cannabis and Breastfeeding

When you use cannabis the active chemical called THC, is stored in your fat cells (like your brain and breast tissue). When your baby breastfeeds, THC is passed through your breast milk and it enters your baby’s brain and body, where it can remain for weeks.

When a baby is exposed to cannabis through breastmilk, the effects are similar to when a baby is exposed during pregnancy. The baby may have sleep problems, be fussier and startle easily. As the baby grows she may have problems with memory, reasoning, focusing and be easily distracted.

  • The healthiest choice for your baby is to breastfeed and avoid cannabis use. For more information on breastfeeding your baby click here.
  • If you choose to use cannabis while breastfeeding despite the risks, use as little as possible.

Cannabis and Parenting

Parents who use cannabis need to be aware of the risks to their children. These include:

Poisoning:
  • It is important that children do not eat cannabis. It can make them very sick and put them at risk of poisoning or overdose.
  • Children can mistake foods containing cannabis for regular foods (gummy bears, brownies, lollipops, cookies etc.).
  • Smaller children are at higher risk of poisoning because of their size and weight.
  • If you think your child has swallowed cannabis call the Manitoba Poison Centre at 1-855-776-4766 or seek medical attention right away.
  • Call 911 right away if your child is having difficulty breathing, trouble with coordination or is extremely sleepy.
Safety tip:
Second-Hand Cannabis Smoke:
  • Second-hand cannabis smoke may cause some of the same health problems as second-hand tobacco smoke. It is harmful for everyone, especially pregnant women, babies and young children.
  • Children exposed to second-hand cannabis smoke are being exposed to the active chemical THC. The THC enters your child’s body where it can remain for weeks.
  • Cannabis smoke can affect babies’ and young children’s alertness, understanding and judgement.
  • It is best to avoid smoking or vaping anything around your baby or children.
  • For more information on secondhand smoke see pregnets.
Parenting your Kids:

Using cannabis can reduce your ability to pay attention, make decisions and react to emergencies. This can affect your ability to respond to your child’s needs and keep him safe.

You may not notice if your child:

  • Is in danger
  • Needs medical attention. If you are impaired you will not be able to drive your child for care.
  • Needs to be comforted
  • Shows cues for hunger
  • Needs to connect, play and learn

When you consume cannabis edibles the effects are delayed (up to 2-3 hours for some people) and you may end up taking more cannabis then you planned. Consuming cannabis in foods or drinks can make people feel higher than expected and the effects can last for several hours and sometimes days.

Safety tip:
  • To ensure your child’s safety always have a plan in place.
  • Be sure that there is always someone available who is not high to take care of your child.
Impaired Driving:
  • Like alcohol, cannabis affects your judgment and ability to drive.
  • No one should ever drive impaired. Know the law.

For more information on Cannabis, please see:
Best start’s – Risk of Cannabis on Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Parenting
Addictions Foundation of Manitoba- Weeding out the Facts
Manitoba Health- Cannabis

References

Saskatchewan Prevention Institute: Cannabis and pregnancy
Government of Manitoba: Cannabis in Manitoba