Pubdate: Thu, 29 Aug 2019
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2019 The New York Times Company
Author: Sheila Kaplan


Surgeon General Warns Pregnant Women and Teenagers Not to Smoke or
Vape Marijuana

Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, said they may be unaware of the
health hazards posed by new, professionally grown marijuana crops.

The United States surgeon general on Thursday issued a public warning
that smoking or vaping marijuana is dangerous for pregnant women and
their developing babies.

At a news conference with other top administration health officials,
the surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, said he was concerned that
pregnant women, teenagers and others were unaware of the health
hazards posed by new, professionally grown marijuana crops.

Retail outlets have recommended marijuana use for morning sickness,
the surgeon general's advisory noted. And doctors are concerned that
T.H.C., the high-inducing chemical in marijuana, poses risks for the
developing fetal brain, and that it could be passed to infants through
breast milk.

Dr. Adams described modern marijuana as far more potent than marijuana
produced and sold 20 years ago, with levels of T.H.C. increasing to a
range of 12 percent to 25 percent from 4 percent back then.

Thirty-three states have legalized marijuana in some way, either for
medical or recreational use. Dr. Adams said that this rapid
normalization of marijuana has caused a false sense of safety about
its use.

"The scary truth is that the actual potential for harm has increased,"
he said. "This ain't your mother's marijuana."

Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, standing
beside the surgeon general, said that although some state laws have
changed, the federal law has not, nor has the science.

"This is a dangerous drug," Mr. Azar said. "No amount of marijuana use
during pregnancy or adolescence is safe."

The new advisory said that marijuana, or cannabis, is the most
commonly used illicit drug in the United States. The surgeon general's
advisory said that its potentially harmful effects include memory and
motor impairments. The newer, more potent strains, he continued, pose
other risks, including anxiety, agitation, paranoia and psychosis.

Mr. Azar said that President Trump had donated $100,000 to pay for a
digital campaign to make the public aware of the hazards of vaping,
smoking or otherwise using marijuana.

Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for mental health and
substance use, said she was concerned about the possible correlation
between marijuana use and increased rates of major depression in

"While we cannot say that marijuana is causal of those things, when
you look at the increased trend, it is quite concerning," she said.
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