Maternal Alcohol and Marijuana Awareness and Proactive Therapeutic Cannabis Dispensary Education



NH Charitable Foundation


United States

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In 2018-2019, we launched the “Today is For Me.” campaign through funding provided by the NH Charitable Foundation (NHCF). The “Today is For Me” campaign was developed to address two aims:

  1. Successfully launch a social marketing campaign tailored to women who are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or of childbearing age and,
  2. Assess the current practice and knowledge among healthcare providers regarding marijuana and alcohol use with their pregnant patients.

To effectively change behavior and improve the health of women and infants across the state, we determined the campaign should both educate women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant and help providers discuss substance use with patients. Among women who use substances and are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, several barriers exist to revealing their substance use and seeking help, including fears and misconceptions about mandatory reporting on the provider side of the discussion. Similarly, providers reported difficulty encouraging their patients to have open and honest conversations about substance use and also struggled with the lack of substantial evidence related to adverse outcomes among infants born to mothers who used marijuana while pregnant.

Through formative research, we uncovered women who use marijuana while pregnant have different motivations for use, including self-medicating for anxiety or depression and tended to be younger and of lower socioeconomic status compared to women who use alcohol while pregnant. Women who use alcohol while pregnant often consumed alcohol because they perceived the behavior as low-risk or something their friends/family did as well. Therefore, JSI determined that the audiences for the campaign should be segmented and should receive different messages.

During the first year of the campaign, JSI created and disseminated a behavior change campaign that addressed both women of childbearing age and the providers who serve this population. Campaign elements were based-off of JSI’s market research and testing, as were developed microsite and social accounts, graphic design layout and production.

Following this successful year of targeted advertising and provider information assistance for pregnant and planning women, JSI is again collaborating with the existing work of the NH Center for Excellence Addressing Alcohol and Drug Misuse and the NH Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery to implement more work relative to decreasing perinatal substance use.

Supported in concert by the State of NH, DHHS, we will execute the award-winning Today is For Me. (TIFM) campaign –a lifestyle campaign aimed at educating women on the health effects of alcohol and marijuana use during and after pregnancy and breastfeeding in order to empower them to make informed health decisions.

JSI will conduct an evaluation of the usefulness and quality of the distributed Maternal Alcohol and Marijuana Awareness project (MAMA) materials with NH providers in order to 1) make any necessary updates and changes, 2) assess the need for additional materials, and 3) reproduce and distribute patient education material. We will work closely with the Commission’s Perinatal Substance Exposure Task Force (PSETF), including MCOs on all appropriate content.

We will provide technical expertise for materials design, development and production for the (PSETF) and the Eating/Sleeping Consoling Learning Collaborative members as they identify communication needs with regard to topics such as POSC implementation and breastfeeding/OUDs. Material messaging and graphic design will be consistent with best-practices and utilize input from women with lived experience.

There is a clear lack of education and patient safety information at the NH therapeutic cannabis dispensaries. We will work with the NH DHHS and dispensaries to assess practices and knowledge of staff relative to perinatal exposure and produce a training for them along with written information materials to deter marijuana use among pregnant and breastfeeding women.

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