Nova Scotia

Cannabis a cure for morning sickness? Doctors say no way

Pregnant women are being warned of the risks associated with cannabis consumption. Doctors say it could affect the baby's brain development.

Doctors are warning pregnant and breastfeeding women that legal pot doesn’t mean safe pot

Doctors say cannabis isn't suitable for morning sickness. (The Canadian Press)

Pregnant women who experience nausea and vomiting may be seeking the best remedy to alleviate those symptoms. But doctors warn that cannabis is not the solution, even if it's legal.

"There's evidence that people are confusing legalization with safety," said Dr. Jennifer Blake, CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

The organization is trying to get the information out ahead of any pro-pot messaging.

NSLC employees will not answer any health-related questions from pot consumers. (CBC)

"We're aware that in the state of Colorado, the cannabis dispensaries are suggesting to women that this is a good alternative for them to use for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy and, in fact, the opposite is true," said Blake.

The society has put forward a public awareness campaign to dispel any myths.

"Cannabis does go through to affect the baby. It is found in fetal tissues. We know that cannabis does affect brain development in children."

NSLC staff not trained to talk about health

Employees who work in cannabis dispensaries in Nova Scotia won't likely be making similar claims as those made south of the border. In fact, they won't be answering any health-related questions.

Their role is to educate customers about different products, said Beverley Ware, spokesperson for the NSLC.

Employees who will be working in shops that sell cannabis will receive specific training.

"We've taken our approach to beverage and alcohol and applied it to cannabis," said Ware. "Our role is awareness. We want to work to ensure the customer makes an informed choice that's right for them and that they get the experience they are looking for."

At participating NSLC stores, customers will line up and place their orders. The orders will be filled behind a counter and sealed in a brown paper bag. (Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation)

However, consumers could still be inundated with information that conflicts with the society's messaging, said Blake.

"There's lots of places where people get information now that we don't have any control over. A lot of it, of course, is through internet sources and that has led to many women reporting that they believe that smoking cannabis, or using cannabis, in pregnancy is not harmful," she said. 

The NSLC is planning to launch its own campaign called "Cannabis Need to Know" about a week before cannabis is legal. It will contain "basic" information, according to Ware.

For example, consumers should be expected to show valid photo identification. They'll be told not to consume cannabis with alcohol, to keep it away from minors, to start slow and not to drive after consuming cannabis.

If any health-related questions arise, NSLC employees will direct people to a website that does contain information about pregnancy and breastfeeding, among other topics.

Health Canada printing warning labels

Health Canada's job is also to warn consumers of the health risks. All packages will contain several warning labels.

Health Canada will require all cannabis products to be sold in this type of packaging, which includes warnings. (Robert Short/CBC )

Messages include warnings about the risks for pregnant and breastfeeding women. There are also messages directed at teenagers and warnings to consumers that cannabis can be addictive, for example.

Those messages will be printed on each label, in rotation.

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia


Sabrina Fabian is a bilingual reporter based in Halifax with more than 10 years experience. She has worked in TV, radio, online and in print. She is originally from Montreal and previously worked in Banff and Calgary.