Exploring Cannabis Use and Psychotropics in FASD

Sept 19, 2022 | 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. E.D.T.

Treatment of the complications arising from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has largely focused on psychosocial and environmental approaches. However, there is a growing body of research about the use of psychotropic medications and cannabis. Dr. Mansfield Mela of the University of Saskatchewan and lead researcher at CanFASD is working to achieve evidence-based medical care for FASD populations and other alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorders.

In this free, two-part presentation, Dr. Mela will present a decision-tree algorithm that guides prescribers on psychotropic medication management for FASD. Participants will also learn about his project to outline the benefits and challenges of cannabis use and ensure that people with FASD have the information they require to make informed decisions.

Healthcare providers,caregivers and self-advocates are welcome to join us for this free webinar as we take a closer at the emergent research on the benefits and impacts of psychotropic and cannabis on FASD.


Psychotropic Medication for FASD

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. E.D.T.

Dr. Mela and a team of 12 multidisciplinary, international experts have spent over two years developing a decision-tree medication algorithm to guide prescribers as they see patients with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder/Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (FASD/ND-PAE). In this webinar, Dr. Mela will discuss how prescribers can use the Psychotropic Medication Algorithm to identify one of four clusters of symptoms to target treatment, identify first and second-line medication to prescribe and adjunct treatment as an alternative. He will then outline how he and his team are conducting further research to evaluate the algorithm’s effectiveness and present promising preliminary results that indicate its usefulness in reducing side effects associated with polypharmacy and improving patient outcomes.


Benefits and Impacts of Cannabis in Adults with FASD

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. E.D.T.

Cannabis use is a common strategy for FASD individuals to ease mental, physical and emotional complications of FASD. Still, there is no evidence about its impact on FASD-associated symptoms. In this webinar, Dr. Mela will outline his ongoing study that seeks to describe cannabis use and its positive and negative effects in adults with FASD. He will outline preliminary findings that suggest cannabis can be helpful when adults with FASD are aware of the impact of cannabis on their bodies and can regulate their use. He will also discuss key inquiry processes meant to ensure research findings are consistent with the reality of cannabis use for FASD symptom management, including consultation with an advisory team that is comprised of adults with FASD, caregivers and community support organizations.

Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions during a live Q&A. There will be a 30-minute intermission between the two presentations.


Dr. Mansfield Mela, Keynote Speaker

Dr. Mansfield Mela (MBBS, FWACP, MSc Psych, FRCPC), Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan, is an academic forensic psychiatrist and a founder of the forensic subspecialty in Canada. He is also the current director of the Centre for Forensic Behavioral Science and Justice Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. As an expert, Dr Mela testifies on various aspects of the interface of law and psychiatry, which include criminal and civil matters. He is an associate faculty member of the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan and teaches undergraduate and graduate medical and law students. He is the co-lead of the patient-oriented research hub in forensic mental health in Saskatchewan, a member of the Saskatchewan Review Board and the Saskatchewan Physician Health program and Vice-Chair of the Forensic Research Network.

As a previous pioneer member, Dr Mela leads the interdisciplinary research team of academic professionals in forensic mental health research at the University of Saskatchewan. His research focuses on psycho-legal aspects of forensic mental health, with specific interests and expertise in the area of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). He is a lead researcher with the Canada FASD research network (CanFASD). He brings a clinical and patient-oriented perspective to his research questions. He seeks to generate research and implement knowledge to achieve evidence-based practice amongst forensic mental health and FASD populations. Reducing victimization and improving patient outcomes, especially among the vulnerable, form the foundation of his clinical and scholarly activities.

Chelsey Mikulic-Frye, Moderator

Chelsey is an FASD Service Coordinator in the Children and Youth Program at Surrey Place. She supports clients who have suspected or confirmed FASD through a family-centered, strength-based approach. Chelsey has been trained in the FASCETS brain-based model of care for people living with FASD. She collaborates with families and agencies within Toronto to increase knowledge and awareness of FASD, connect families to community services and create safe spaces for families and clients affected by FASD. Throughout her time at Surrey Place, Chelsey has moderated Wellness Events, creating opportunities for clients, caregivers, professionals and community members to gather, share experiences and learn from one another.

Why Join?

Did you know that 4% of Canadians have FASD and many are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed (CanFASD, 2019)? FASD is a lifelong disability and people may experience some challenges with their physical, mental, learning, behavioural and/or social skills. We want to equip healthcare providers, caregivers and self-advocates with information and tools to improve health outcomes.

Watch last year’s FASD event, FASD: A Whole-Body Diagnosis led by world-renowned motivational speaker, trainer and peer mentor Myles Himmelreich.

Surrey Place’s FASD Services provide individuals, their families and caregivers with a circle of care through the support of healthcare professionals and service providers to achieve the best possible outcome.

Contact Information

For general inquiries, contact

By 2 months

Has your baby had their hearing screened? YES NO

By 6 months

Does the child?

Startle in response to loud noises? YES NO
Turn to where a sound is coming from? YES NO
Make different cries for different needs (hungry, tired)? YES NO
Watch your face as you talk? YES NO
Smile/laugh in response to your smiles and laughs? YES NO
Imitate coughs or other sounds such as ah, eh, buh YES NO

By 9 months

Does the child?

Respond to their name? YES NO
Respond to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door? YES NO
Understand being told no? YES NO
Get what they want through using gestures (reaching to be picked up)? YES NO
Play social games with you (Peek-a-Boo)? YES NO
Enjoy being around people? YES NO
Babble and repeat sounds such as babababa or duhduhduh? YES NO

By 12 months

Does the child?

Follow simple one-step directions (sit down)? YES NO
Look across the room to a toy when adult points at it? YES NO
Consistently use three to five words? YES NO
Use gestures to communicate (waves hi/bye, shakes head for no)? YES NO
Get your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes? YES NO
Bring you toys to show you? YES NO
Perform for social attention and praise? YES NO
Combine lots of sounds together as though talking (abada baduh abee)? YES NO
Show an interest in simple picture books? YES NO

By 18 months

Does the child?

Understand the meaning of in and out, off and on? YES NO
Point to more than 2 body parts when asked? YES NO
Use at least 20 words consistently? YES NO
Respond with words or gestures to simple questions (Where's teddy? What's that?)? YES NO
Demonstrate some pretend play with toys (gives teddy bear a drink, pretends a bowl is a hat)? YES NO
Make at least four different consonant sounds (p ,b, m, n, d, g, w, h)? YES NO
Enjoy being read to and sharing simple books with you? YES NO
Point to pictures using one finger? YES NO

By 2 years

Does the child?

Follow two-step directions (Go find your teddy bear and show it to Grandma.)? YES NO
Use 100 to 150 words? YES NO
Use at least two pronouns (you, me, mine)? YES NO
Consistently combine two to four words in short phrases (Daddy hat. Truck go down.)? YES NO
Enjoy being around other children? YES NO
Begin to offer toys to other children and imitate other children's actions and words? YES NO
Use words that are understood by others 50 to 60 per cent of the time? YES NO
Form words or sounds easily and without effort? YES NO
Hold books the right way up and turn the pages? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 30 months

Does the child?

Understand the concepts of size (big/little) and quantity (a little/a lot, more)? YES NO
Use some adult grammar (two cookies, bird flying, I jumped)? YES NO
Use over 350 words? YES NO
Use action words such as run, spill, fall? YES NO
Participate in some turn-taking activities with peers, using both words and toys? YES NO
Demonstrate concern when another child is hurt or sad? YES NO
Combine several actions in play (puts blocks in the train and drives the train, drops the blocks off.)? YES NO
Put sounds at the beginning of most words? YES NO
Use words with two or more syllables or beats (ba-na-na, com-pu-ter, a-pple)? YES NO
Recognize familiar logos and signs involving print (Stop sign)? YES NO
Remember and understand familiar stories? YES NO

By 3 years

Does the child?

Understand who, what, where and why questions? YES NO
Create long sentences using five to eight words? YES NO
Talk about past events (trip to grandparents house, day at child care)? YES NO
Tell simple stories? YES NO
Show affection for favourite playmates? YES NO
Engage in multi-step pretend play (pretending to cook a meal, repair a car)? YES NO
Talk in a way that most people outside of the family understand what she/he is saying most of the time? YES NO
Have an understanding of the function of print (menus, lists, signs)? YES NO
Show interest in, and awareness of, rhyming words? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 4 years

Does the child?

Follow directions involving three or more steps (First get some paper, then draw a picture and give it to Mommy)? YES NO
Use adult type grammar? YES NO
Tell stories with a beginning, middle and end? YES NO
Talk to try and solve problems with adults and with other children? YES NO
Show increasingly complex imaginary play? YES NO
Talk in a way that is understood by strangers almost all the time? YES NO
Generate simple rhymes (cat-bat)? YES NO
Match some letters with their sounds (letter b says buh, letter t says tuh)? YES NO