Recent Surgeon General’s Advisory Continues to Emphasize Health Risks of Marijuana on the Developing Brain

On August 29, 2019, U. S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams issued an advisory about the negative affects of marijuana on the developing brain of our youth and babies.  Surgeon General Adams introduced the advisory with the following:

I, Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams, 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.

He specifically addressed the fact that our brains are developing from before birth to our mid 20s and this developing process is vulnerable to marijuana as an addictive substance.  The legalization process in many states has made it appear that marijuana is not harmful but that is not accurate. 

The advisory further states:

Frequent marijuana use during adolescence is associated with changes in the areas of the brain involved in attention, memory, decision-making, and motivation. Deficits in attention and memory have been detected in marijuana-using teens even after a month of abstinence. Marijuana can also impair learning in adolescents. Chronic use is linked to declines in IQ, school performance that jeopardizes professional and social achievements, and life satisfaction. Regular use of marijuana in adolescence is linked to increased rates of school absence and drop-out, as well as suicide attempts. 

He ends the advisory with a call to action:

Science-based messaging campaigns and targeted prevention programming are urgently needed to ensure that risks are clearly communicated and amplified by local, state, and national organizations. Clinicians can help by asking about marijuana use, informing …  young people, and those vulnerable to psychotic disorders, of the risks. … Further research is needed to understand all the impacts of THC on the developing brain, but we know enough now to warrant concern and action. Everyone has a role in protecting our young people from the risks of marijuana.

To read the entire advisory, please CLICK HERE.