“What about the children?” is a mantra that has been used to propel prohibition with misplaced fear. Scientists and politicians increasingly warn about the dangers of using cannabis during pregnancy. There’s only one issue: data doesn’t back them up. But a lack of evidence has never stopped the tides of prohibition. Unable to demonstrate that cannabis is actually harmful, public officials nevertheless warn that women are now more likely to report using cannabis during pregnancy (which partly reflects greater comfort talking to doctors, not greater use). But as doctors recently highlighted in a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the “data we do have on cannabis does not show definitive harm.” Clinical trials are for all practical purposes illegal, and most publications on cannabis “conform to the unproven idea that cannabis deserves its dangerous designation.” Meanwhile, California is considering a policy that would designate cannabis a developmental toxin. There are legitimate concerns, such as the higher rates of alcohol use associated with cannabis. But we need to dispel the haunting specter that cannabis is harming the youth, not enshrine it in law.
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