The head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says we should be more concerned about young people accessing marijuana than nicotine.
In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb lamented that fewer young people perceive cannabis as harmful and predicted that regular marijuana consumption would “create a different set of risks,” compared to occasional use.
“I think we all need to be deeply concerned about that in the same way we’re deeply concerned about youth access to e-cigarettes and nicotine,” he said.
“We should be even more concerned about youth access to marijuana and cannabis.”
The FDA has made a concerted effort to highlight the dangers of e-cigarettes in recent weeks, with Gottlieb calling teen use of the products an “epidemic.” The FDA ordered several e-cigarette manufactures to submit plans to deter youth use within 60 days earlier this month.
Gottlieb’s comments also come on the heels of a separate CNBC interview where he signaled support for cannabis decriminalization, saying we “could decriminalize the use of certain substance and the possession of certain substances and not move toward legalization and promotion of use.”
— CNBC (@CNBC) September 7, 2018
But apparently the e-cigarette “epidemic, ” as Gottlieb characterized it, isn’t quite as serious as youth cannabis consumption.
“I’m worried about the inhalation of a product and the risks associated with that,” he said. “I’m worried about the perception that somehow there’s no risks associated with youth use of the product.”
While research has turned up some evidence that adolescent exposure to marijuana can disrupt cognitive development, e-cigarettes contain the addictive ingredient nicotine, which can increase heart rate and blood pressure, impair brain development and cause nicotine poisoning.
Though less harmful than traditional cigarettes, there’s evidence that e-cigarettes also pose health risks.
Generally speaking, young people perceive regular marijuana use as more dangerous than vaping e-cigarettes, according to the 2017 Monitoring the Future survey. They’re also more likely to vape nicotine than marijuana extracts.
Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.
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