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article imageSurgeon General warns pregnant women, youth over marijuana use

By Karen Graham     Aug 29, 2019 in Health
Federal health officials issued a national warning Thursday against marijuana use by adolescents and pregnant women, as more states legalize the increasingly potent drug for medicinal and recreational use.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Surgeon General Jerome Adams made the announcement, with Azar calling marijuana “a dangerous drug," reports the Associated Press.
Government officials also said President Donald Trump had donated $100,000, one-quarter of his annual salary, toward a digital campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of the drug.
HHS officials are saying the best science available suggests no amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or for youth is known to be safe, while Surgeon General Jerome Adams' advisory was the first his office has issued on marijuana since 1982, according to Politico.
"Just to be clear: Some states' laws on marijuana may have changed, but the science has not and federal law has not," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. While the opioid crisis is a major priority for the White House, marijuana use has not gotten such high-level scrutiny.
The Surgeon General's warning comes at a time when nearly two-thirds of U.S. states have legalized the use of marijuana. Marijuana is now a $10 billion industry in the U.S., mainly through medical marijuana, although an increasing number of states have also made pot legal for recreational use.
Medicinal cannabis.
Medicinal cannabis.
Raul ARBOLEDA, AFP/File
U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory
In the Surgeon General's advisory, Adams says, "I am emphasizing the importance of protecting our Nation from the health risks of marijuana use in adolescence and during pregnancy. Recent increases in access to marijuana and in its potency, along with misperceptions of safety of marijuana endanger our most precious resource, our nation’s youth."
The report notes that marijuana available today is much stronger than previous versions. The THC concentration in commonly cultivated marijuana plants has increased three-fold between 1995 and 2014 (4 percent and 12 percent respectively). The risks of physical dependence, addiction, and other negative consequences increase with exposure to high concentrations of THC and the younger the age when marijuana use begins.
"Pregnant women use marijuana more than any other illicit drug. In a national survey, marijuana use in the past month among pregnant women doubled (3.4% to 7%) between 2002 and 2017," says the report.
HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said pregnant women taking marijuana to relieve morning sickness should stop. “If you have morning sickness, talk to your physician,” he said.
More about Marijuana, pregnantwomen, Young people, Dangers, Surgeon general
 
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