At an August 29 announcement of a new health advisory about the rising popularity of pot use, Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned of the dangers of potent cannabis, overeating edibles and the plant's effects on pregnant mothers, unborn children and the developing brains of young people.
"While the perceived harm of marijuana is decreasing, the scary truth is that the actual potential for harm is increasing," Adams said.
The health advisory is designed to raise awareness of stronger THC products and what continued use could do to the brain. "The risks of physical dependence, addiction, and other negative consequences increase with exposure to high concentrations of THC and the younger the age of initiation. Higher doses of THC are more likely to produce anxiety, agitation, paranoia and psychosis," it reads.
CBD isn't forgotten, either: "While CBD is not intoxicating and does not lead to addiction, its long-term effects are largely unknown, and most CBD products are untested and of uncertain purity," the advisory says.
It also warns that the "risks of physical dependence, addiction, and other negative consequences increase with exposure to high concentrations of THC," but whether cannabis addictions are physical or psychological has been a topic of debate in the cannabis and medical communities for some time. Either way, Adams is concerned, telling NPR that "one in five people who begin marijuana use during adolescence become addicted."
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recently announced that President Donald Trump will donate around $100,000 of his presidential salary to fund a media campaign about the risks of marijuana use, NPR notes.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, overall marijuana use among teens rose slightly from 2015 to 2018 as overall use of alcohol and cigarettes dropped. Vaping and overall illicit drug use both increased during the same period.
However, a state survey by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows youth marijuana use declined from 2015 to 2017 in Colorado, where marijuana has been commercially legal since 2014.