U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Thursday issued a new health advisory on the risks of marijuana use by young people and pregnant women.
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Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speak at press conference, Aug. 29, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
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Adams and Health Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said they support additional research on the impacts of marijuana. But Adams — known as “the nation’s doctor” — said the latest research is clear that marijuana is particularly harmful to developing brains and can be passed along to babies in utero or through breastmilk.
At a news conference, Adams told reporters that he was deeply concerned about what he called the “rapid normalization” of the drug and a false perception among young people that because it’s now legal in some states that it must be safe.
“Not enough people known that today’s marijuana is far more potent than in days past,” the surgeon general said.
“This ain’t your mother’s marijuana,” he added.
(MORE: ‘Epidemic’ of dangerous youth e-cigarette, vaping use, surgeon general declares)
HHS chief Azar said the federal government will launch a public awareness campaign, and that President Donald Trump would be donating a portion of his salary to those efforts.
Azar said the government doesn’t know everything about the drug’s impact, but he insisted that the best science shows that it’s addictive and damaging.
“State laws on marijuana has changed, but the science has not. And federal law has not,” he said.
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A man smokes marijuana in an undated stock photo.
Last year, the surgeon general issued a similar strong warning against e-cigarette use by young people, called it “unsafe” in any form and termed vaping an “epidemic.”
(MORE: FDA looks to ban menthol cigarettes, restrict flavored e-cigarettes amid youth ‘epidemic’)
The American Academy of Pediatrics has long warned against the use of marijuana by young people. And the group has said no amount of marijuana has been proven safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Marijuana can have varying levels of potency depending on its THC level (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). According to HHS, the THC concentration in commonly cultivated marijuana plants increased three-fold between 1995 and 2014.
HHS said that, according to research pregnant, women use marijuana more than any other illicit drug.