At the end of August, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a disturbing health advisory on marijuana that does not align with a now very common perception of the “natural” drug. Adams summarized the advisory saying, “This ain’t your mother’s marijuana.”
“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.”
The advisory outlined the steady increase in potency of marijuana over the past two decades. The concentration of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) in commonly cultivated marijuana had increased three times as much from 1995 to 2014. Marijuana available in dispensaries had concentration levels on average between 17.7% and 23.25%. More concentrated forms of marijuana such as dabs or waxes had concentrations ranging from 23.7% to 75.9%. Edibles are also a commonly used form of cannabis that tends to have much higher concentrations of THC.
Despite these numbers, according to a 2019 Pew research study, 62% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. A drastic change since 2000 when 63% of Americans said the use of marijuana should be illegal. This research points to a drastic shift in the cultural outlook on the drug. As of September 2019, 11 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana in small amount for adults and 34 states have sanctioned medical marijuana programs in some form.
Even more shocking than the findings of the health advisory, it was the first advisory on marijuana since 1982. Medical cannabis has been legal in California since 1996 and recreational marijuana use has been legal in Colorado and Washington since 2012, yet no health advisory had been issued until now.
Many students at Florida A&M have experiences that align with the findings of the advisory. This includes exposure as adolescents, and potency of new forms of marijuana.
D’angelo Givens, a senior animal industry student at FAMU, says that he was exposed to marijuana at a young age and that it was mainly in edible form.
“I was exposed to marijuana when I was in the 10th grade. Edibles were easily accessible and we didn’t have to risk smelling like smoke in my parent’s house.”
Givens also experienced a bad “trip” that discouraged him from using edibles ever again.
“In the eleventh grade I had an edible. I took it during school at lunchtime so that it would kick in later when I was at home. Me and my friend threw up and were so sick; I will never forget that. That’s when I knew that edibles were a no-go for forever,” Givens said. “I got it from my friend who I trusted. His excuse was he didn’t realize how much he put in there so I guess he wasn’t aware at the time.”
Givens noted that none of the information in the advisory changed his opinion that weed should be legalized and that there is nothing wrong with the way it is used now by the most people.
Malayalla Frinkley, biology major at FAMU, said she was exposed to marijuana in the ninth grade and had a similar experience of someone being hospitalized for a week due to marijuana use.
“I knew someone who was hospitalized for like a week. They were smoking and eating edibles in the same day,” Frinkley said. “But I don’t think using it every now and then is bad.”