‘Not your mother’s marijuana’: Surgeon General issues warning about drug’s harms
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, issued an advisory to raise awareness — especially among pregnant women and youth — of the harms associated with marijuana use.
“Not enough people know that today’s marijuana is much more potent than in day’s past,” Adams said at a press conference. “The amount of THC ... has increased three- to fivefold over the last few decades. That is before you take into account concentrated forms such as edibles, oils and laxatives, which can increase THC delivery even further by an additional threefold. This is not your mother’s marijuana.”
Some of the data that health officials cited as a rationale for the advisory included:
- New marijuana users in 2017 between 18 and 25 rose by 30%.
- More than 9 million individuals 12 to 25 years of age reported marijuana use in the prior month in 2017.
- School-age frequent marijuana users are more likely to have impaired decision-making skills and memories and declines in academic performance.
- Between 2002 and 2017, marijuana use among pregnant women doubled.
Pregnant women who use marijuana regularly risk impairing their infant’s neurological development and could lower the child’s birth weight.
Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use at HHS, spoke at the press conference about the psychological impact marijuana use can have.
“In our most recent national survey on drug use and health, we saw significant increase in marijuana use by Americans 12 and older,” she said. “So, we see this continuing trend in increasing marijuana use in addition to the increasing potency of the drug.”
“The other thing that we’re seeing are very increased rates of major depression in adolescents. In young adults and adults at large, we’re also seeing higher rates of serious mental illness. While we cannot say that marijuana is causal of those things, when you look at the increasing trend for marijuana use and you see the association of increases in serious mental illness in major depression with suicidality in people that are marijuana users vs. those who are not, it’s quite concerning,” McCance-Katz continued.
Adams urged the medical community to learn about marijuana’s dangers.
“Please educate yourself about the prevalence of marijuana use in your community and the harms so that you can appropriate answer patients’ questions.” – by Janel Miller and Savannah Demko
Disclosures: Adams is U.S. Surgeon General, McCance-Katz is an assistant secretary for HHS.