Surgeon General's Advisory on Marijuana Use and Its Impact on the Developing Brain

Aug 30, 2019

A note from the surgeon general:


Yesterday, I released an advisory on marijuana use and its impact on the developing brain. This Surgeon General’s Advisory is in response to high rates of marijuana use among pregnant women and young people, widespread and growing access to increasingly potent marijuana, and a mounting body of evidence of harms.

For pregnant women, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug. Between 2002 and 2017, marijuana use among pregnant women doubled. Marijuana is also the third most commonly used illicit substance in adolescents, behind alcohol and e-cigarettes. While among young people, the perceived harm of marijuana is decreasing, the truth is that the potential for harm is actually increasing.

The science tells us young people who regularly use marijuana are more likely to show a decline in IQ and school performance, are more apt to miss classes and drop out, and are more likely to attempt suicide. The science also shows that marijuana use during pregnancy can affect the baby’s brain, and also result in lower birth weight, a marker for early death and disability.

The risks related to marijuana use rise with its concentration. Today’s THC is 3-5 times stronger than just a few decades ago. And marijuana is available in many different forms, some of which are highly concentrated. These products raise the risks of overdose and accidental ingestion.

We must take action now to protect our young people during a particularly vulnerable time of life. Resources are available in the advisory to help parents, teachers, clinicians, and others safeguard our youth from harm due to marijuana use.

I’m asking you to help me spread this simple message across America: No amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is known to be safe.

Learn more by reading the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory: Marijuana Use and the Developing Brain KNOW THE RISKS. TAKE ACTION. PROTECT OUR FUTURE.

Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH
VADM, U.S. Public Health Service
20th Surgeon General