“There is a significant lack of research looking into the intentions and desired effects of cannabis consumption during the perinatal period and while parenting,” said team member Kelly Pridding. “We believe that more holistic, participatory, and community-based research approaches will go a long way toward dispelling myths and misconceptions and expand this important conversation.”
A knowledge-to-action framework
The initial phase of the research involves a series of dialogue-based sessions exploring different experiences and perspectives among the stakeholders on the intersections of cannabis, pregnancy, parenting, and mental health. Using a knowledge-to-action framework, researchers will then turn the feedback from those conversations into practical tools and recommendations.
“The most exciting thing about this work is the potential to create real-world practice and policy applications,” said Ion. “Our goal is to develop concrete tools, practice approaches, and/or policies that can be applied in perinatal care and child welfare practice settings, ultimately strengthening the quality of care and reducing cannabis stigmatization in the process.”
As Benes sees it, this project represents an important new chapter in cannabis research. “We still have a long way to go in closing the knowledge gap between mental health and cannabis consumption in priority populations,” she said. “But every time we include those populations in the work that is ultimately meant to serve them, we make that gap a little bit smaller.”
With special thanks to research team members Allyson Ion, Saara Greene, Theresa Kozak, Gabrielle Griffith, Kelly Pridding, Claudette Cardinal, and Gary Dumbrill (in collaboration with the McMaster Health Forum). Team members wanted to specifically express their gratitude for MHCC funding and also acknowledge the financial support received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.