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Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams issued an advisory emphasizing the importance of protecting youth and pregnant women from the health risks of marijuana use. Marijuana, or cannabis, is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a component of marijuana, binds to receptors in the brain, producing euphoria and a variety of potentially harmful effects, including intoxication and memory and motor impairments. Newer strains of marijuana have also shown to be increasingly more potent, leading to other risks like anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and psychosis.

Pregnant women use marijuana more than any other illicit drugs; it is also commonly used by adolescents. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s recently released 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data showed that marijuana continues to be the most widely used illicit drug and that further, frequent marijuana use, in both youths (12-17 years old) and young adults, appears to be associated with risks for opioid use, heavy alcohol use, and major depressive episodes. In 2017 alone, approximately 9.2 million youth aged 12 to 25 reported using marijuana in the past month and 29% more young adults aged 18 to 25 started using the substance.

Compounding concerns regarding marijuana use and the developing brain is the surge in products with a higher THC concentration, and their accessibility. The risks of physical dependence, addiction, and other negative consequences increase with exposure to high concentrations of THC, daily use, and the younger the age of initiation.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ mission is to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans. The Department seeks to fulfill that mission by providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services.

This was reported by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services on August 29, 2019. 

Contact information: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Press Office, 200 Independence Avenue, South West, Washington, District of Columbia 20201; 202-690-6343; Email: media@hhs.gov; Website: www.hhs.gov 


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