Despite the serious risks associated with marijuana, trends indicate that pregnant women and young people are growing more likely to use the drug—and less likely to recognize the risks. This is unacceptable, and the Trump Administration will do everything in its power to turn these trends around.
Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us here today.
We’re here today because we all share serious concerns about one of America’s most important health challenges: substance abuse, especially among our nation’s youth.
I’m grateful to work for a President who takes this issue incredibly seriously. President Trump recognizes substance abuse for what it is: a health issue with serious and tragic effects on far too many American lives.
The President’s serious concern with America’s health and the risks of addiction is one of the reasons why he recently donated his second quarter salary to promote the advisory that the Surgeon General is releasing today.
The advisory makes clear that marijuana poses substantial risks for the developing brain and discourages youth and pregnant women from using this dangerous drug.
The advisory, like all of our work on substance abuse, is grounded in the best science we have.
In our work on the opioid crisis, for instance, I have made very clear that this administration sees addiction as a medical challenge, not a moral failing, and that we are committed to advancing scientifically-based approaches like the use of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.
That same grounding in the science is what spurred the Surgeon General to issue this advisory—the first Surgeon General’s advisory on marijuana since the one issued by C. Everett Koop in 1982.
Especially as the potency of marijuana has risen dramatically over the past several decades, we don’t know everything we might want to know about this drug.
But we do know a number of things: It is a dangerous drug. For many, it can be addictive. And it is especially dangerous for adolescents and pregnant women, because of what we know about how it affects the developing brain.
We need to be clear: Some states’ laws on marijuana may have changed, but the science has not, and federal law has not.
Moreover, because the concentration of THC in marijuana has tripled over the past few decades, the science suggests marijuana use carries more risk than ever. It is a fundamentally different product, both in potency and methods of use, than what existed several decades ago.
For adolescents who use marijuana, the potential harm to the brain is real, serious, and documented. Marijuana can affect brain development and cause deficiencies in attention, memory, decision-making, and motivation. Chronic use has been linked to declines in IQ. And when a pregnant woman uses marijuana, THC can enter their baby’s brain and poses risks for its development—a risk that continues during breastfeeding.
Worryingly, marijuana use is also linked to risk for and early onset of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, and the association strengthens with more frequent use, stronger THC content, and earlier first use.
We are committed to more research on illuminating these risks, because one of the dangers is that we still don’t know all of the risks.
But we know now that no amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is safe. Despite the serious risks associated with marijuana, trends indicate that pregnant women and young people are growing more likely to use the drug—and less likely to recognize the risks.
This is unacceptable, and the Trump Administration will do everything in its power to turn these trends around. That starts with ensuring that Americans, their doctors, and their communities have the right information about marijuana’s risks, which involves work across HHS, at SAMHSA, CDC, NIH, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. The President’s salary donation will fund the creation of communications materials on this advisory in particular and their targeted promotion on social media.
During so many different public health challenges our country has faced, Americans have looked to a doctor in uniform, the Surgeon General, for a perspective they can trust, and I am grateful to have Surgeon General Adams on our side in our country’s battle against substance abuse today. So I am happy now to turn things over to Vice Admiral Jerome Adams.