Mandated Reporting of Marijuana Use During Pregnancy

DATE:            March 15, 2017

TO:                 All Mandated Reporters

 FROM:           James Martin, Director, Office of Child and Family Services

SUBJECT:      Statement Regarding Mandated Reporting of Marijuana Use During Pregnancy

Dear Mandated Reporter:

Recent changes in law regarding use of marijuana have naturally catalyzed questions about the impact on healthcare provider’s legal obligation to report marijuana use during pregnancy. This statement intends to clarify the position of the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS).

Under Maine law, Title 22, §4011-B Notification of prenatal exposure to drugs or having fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, healthcare providers involved in the delivery or care of an infant are required to report to Child Protective Services any prenatal exposure of a newborn to illegal substances during pregnancy.

Additionally under this statute, healthcare providers are required to report to CPS any situation where a newborn “is demonstrating withdrawal symptoms that require medical monitoring or care beyond standard newborn care when those symptoms have resulted from or have likely resulted from prenatal drug exposure, whether the prenatal exposure was to legal or illegal drugs”.

Under federal law, Title 42 .§5106(b)(2)(B)(ii) of CAPTA (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act) medical providers must report all infants born affected by illegal substance abuse. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal. While “affected” is not defined in CAPTA or in Maine’s statute, we interpret “affected” in the way many other states have – as meaning the infant is (in the opinion of a medical provider) adversely affected by the substance.

Maine law, Title 22 § 4011-A(1)(A), includes mandatory reporting of neglect. Health care providers are often the first people aware of possible neglect by a caregiver to an infant, particularly those infants whose special needs at birth result from the adverse effects of prenatal substance use, legal or illegal.

In summary, a medical provider must report any situation where a newborn was prenatally exposed to illegal drugs whether or not the newborn is demonstrating adverse affects. Additionally, a medical provider must also report any prenatal exposure to legal or illegal substances if the newborn “is demonstrating withdrawal symptoms that require medical monitoring or care beyond standard newborn care.” Finally, a medical provider must report suspected neglect of an infant for which there may be a heightened risk when the newborn is adversely affected by prenatal substance use, legal or illegal.

For more information about your responsibilities as a mandated reporter, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Child and Family Services at Maine DHHS. 

OCFS contact and training information:

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.