U.S. Surgeon General Issues Cannabis Advisory for Pregnant Women, Teens

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams issued an advisory targeting pregnant women and youth, warning against cannabis use.

“No amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is known to be safe. Until and unless more is known about the long-term impact, the safest choice for pregnant women and adolescents is not to use marijuana,” the report stated.

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Adams’ comments at a press conference were widely quoted in media reports, when he said, “This ain’t your mother’s marijuana.”

“Not enough people know that today’s marijuana is far more potent than in days past. The amount of THC—the component responsible for euphoria and intoxication but also most of marijuana’s documented harms—has increased three- to five-fold over the last few decades,” he said.

“We’ve seen an increase in emergency department visits for psychosis, overdose and accidental ingestion. And nearly one in five people who begin marijuana use during adolescence become addicted,” Adams added.

The American Medical Association (AMA) voiced its support for the action. AMA President Dr. Patrice Harris told CNN in a statement:

“We strongly support this effort as the AMA has long discouraged cannabis use by youth, pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding and has called for research to determine the consequences of long-term cannabis use in these populations.”

“The AMA believes that scientifically valid and well-controlled clinical trials conducted under federal investigational new drug applications are necessary to assess the safety and effectiveness of all new drugs, including potential cannabis and cannabinoid products for medical use. Due to legal and regulatory barriers to cannabis and cannabinoid research, physicians and patients do not currently have the evidence needed to understand the health effects of these products and make sound clinical decisions regarding their use,” Harris added.

The Surgeon General’s cannabis advisory highlighted the unknown effect of cannabinoids on the developing brain—in-utero and for infants exposed to secondhand smoke or through breast milk, as well as children and teenagers.

Studies also were cited that showed increased THC levels in cannabis currently produced for commercial consumption. Several medical conditions that might result from ingesting excessive levels of THC were noted, including “anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and psychosis,” in teens.

Increased cannabis use among pregnant women was also featured, with statistics that indicated the number of pregnant women using cannabis more than doubled between 2009 and 2016.

The advisory also cited College of American Obstetricians and Gynecologists current guidelines, which recommend, “women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use. Women reporting marijuana use should be counseled about concerns regarding potential adverse health consequences of continued use during pregnancy.”

Adams’ comment from the advisory read, “[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.”

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