There continues to be a noticeable divide between politicians and medical professionals regarding the legalization of marijuana. We recently wrote about that divide in Missouri, where important medical associations have shunned Missouri’s rather green medical marijuana program. Now, United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams has chimed in with a warning regarding legalization.
According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, on June 24, 2019, Surgeon General Adams told doctors and medical school students at the UC Davis School of Medicine that California and other states have gone “way too far too fast” in legalizing marijuana. Adams urged doctors and students to recognize that marijuana strains consumed today are much stronger than “your momma’s marijuana, the marijuana of Woodstock.” Surgeon General Adams explained that the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as “THC,” was generally found at concentrations of about five percent in the marijuana of yesteryear. Recently, however, concentration levels have increased up to 25 percent in marijuana flower. And even more concerning to Surgeon General Adams, marijuana oil and wax concentrates consumed by vaping can have THC levels of 90 to 95 percent. To put this in perspective, Adams stated “[t]hat’s like the difference between you going out and having a glass of wine for dinner and you drinking a pint of grain alcohol.”
Surgeon General Adams also singled out two population groups that he has special concerns about: pregnant women and youth. He noted that “[t]here are communities where one in five pregnant women are reporting marijuana use.” He further stated that “[t]he youth attitudes about the dangers of marijuana are going in the wrong direction. I’m really concerned about the impact of marijuana usage on the developing brain, including the fetus.”
Companies operating in cannabis should take note of the Surgeon General’s comments. While politicians have largely brushed aside medical concerns about marijuana in the rush to legalization, the medical community is and will remain an important voice in the debate. Cannabis companies should continue to work with medical professionals to identify health benefits that cannabis provides and to mitigate risks associated with high-THC concentrations and use by youths and pregnant women.