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Medical Marijuana and Children

Medical Marijuana and Children Anecdotal evidence supporting the use of medical marijuana to treat children is all around us. Videos on YouTube demonstrate the calming effects of cannabis on autistic children. A young boy featured in a 2009 article in the New York Times had such severe pica that he was literally eating his own shirts over the course of a school day, but stopped after being given marijuana cookies. (Pica is a condition where human beings are compelled to eat non-food items.) Young people with ADHD eat pot-laced brownies and suddenly gain the ability to focus. OCD kids get a drop of a marijuana tincture and are able to stay calm in the face of things that would usually trigger emotional melt-downs. On the surface, then, medical marijuana would seem to be a logical alternative treatment for kids with neurological disorders that aren't manageable with conventional medications. After all, at least two of the sixteen states where medical marijuana has been made legal (California and Maine) allow its use for patients under the age of 18. The problem is that, even ignoring the DEA's recent science-flouting announcement that there are no medical benefits of cannabis, pro-medical marijuana doctors and scientists disagree about whether or not the drug can be safely used for children.

Smoke is not the issue.

One thing that is not an issue when it comes to children using medicinal cannabis is smoke inhalation. In most cases, edibles are the recommended form of treatment, either in brownies or cookies, though sometimes tinctures - distilled liquid marijuana - are used instead. The drug can also be formed into breads or butters, sodas or even candy, to make it easier to ingest without the risk of smoke damage to tender, young lungs.

Concerns About Brain Development

If smoke isn't an issue with children being treated with medical marijuana, what is? While there are some worries about marijuana as a "gateway" drug, leading users to look for stronger drugs once they become acclimated, the real cause for concern is how the use of cannabis might affect brain development. Last year, the New York Times spoke with child psychiatrist Dr. Steven Sager, the director of the Malibu, California-based teen drug and alcohol center Echo, who feels that medical marijuana might actually be a bad thing for young people. "I think the medical marijuana might actually be making their symptoms worse," he told the press. He added that he thought marijuana might merely sedate the patient, masking the underlying conditions. Sager also expressed worries, which he passes on to parents, that marijuana could cause new problems like depression and anxiety. His interview made it very clear that he believes only those medications which have been tested and approved by the FDA should ever be considered for minor patients. On the other side of the debate, is Dr. Lester Grinspoon, who was interviewed in the same July, 2010 article. Grinspoon, a retired physician and professor at Harvard Medical School, admits that there's no proof medical marijuana will actually work. "I can't guarantee it's going to do anything," he told the Times, but he added that the drug is "remarkably non-toxic," and unlikely to cause any harm. Grinspoon devoted much of his career to the study of cannabis and has even written several books on the subject, including one called Marijuana: the Forbidden Medicine. He also has personal experience: his son was a cancer patient who used marijuana to ease the nausea and pain associated with his chemotherapy sessions in the last weeks of his life. According to Grinspoon, then, the most dangerous thing about marijuana is the public perception of the drug. "We have been brainwashed about this substance," he told the New York Times last summer. "There will come a time when people will recognize this as the wonder drug of our times."
Comments
 
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Guest | Jun 11, 2012
 
This is an awesome article! I love your views on this subject and I think a lot like you. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
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mariathc | Jun 11, 2012
 
Great Post! Will definitely help a lot of people.
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lindzzz | Nov 2, 2011
 
It is nice to read all of the support for the patients and the parents' rights when it comes to choosing medicine or treatment options.
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Guest | Oct 6, 2011
 
i believe cannabis should be made available for research and studies without any of the political red tape to stop or hinder its research.. my own personal experience with cannabis as a kid really helped me go through a very difficult childhood due to psycological trauma and i sincerly believe without it i would not be here today.
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Kushie Q | Jul 13, 2011
 
I have been hearing a lot about the use of marijuana and kids lately, Made me do a lot of thinking on the subject. Here is my own personal thoughts. Would I rather give my child a dose of THC in a cookie or some drug created in a lab for their neurological problem. Hum, well from someone who was totally screwed up as a kid by doctors who prescribed lithium, my vote is for THC completely. But it should be the parents decision with their own doctors.
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CannaConnoisseur | Jul 13, 2011
 
I agree, it should definitely be up to the parents whether or not to allow their child to use MMJ. After all I think a parent knows their child better than anyone.
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lindzzz | Jul 12, 2011
 
I sincerely hope that Dr. Grinspoon is right, and that marijuana will gain recognition as a drug that has a major impact on the overall health of our society. As for children using, I think that the parents are the best judge, and there are many parents out there who choose to save their children's lives with cannabis, or at least make the end better, like Dr. Grinspoon. It is a matter of course that children should never smoke, but ingest with edibles. I think that the story of Joey and his mother is reflective of this article.
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lindzzz | Jul 12, 2011
 
I sincerely hope that Dr. Grinspoon is right, and that marijuana will gain recognition as a drug that has a major impact on the overall health of our society. As for children using, I think that the parents are the best judge, and there are many parents out there who choose to save their children's lives with cannabis, or at least make the end better, like Dr. Grinspoon. It is a matter of course that children should never smoke, but ingest with edibles. I think that the story of Joey and his mother is reflective of this article.
Avatar
Herb Lady | Jul 12, 2011
 
I am in support of any homeopathic medicine given to children in pain. Cannabis is an all natural plant and if grown organically it can provide many healing effects. It is archaic to believe a child should suffer any ailment that could be treated by eating an MMJ edible. Many parents may have to choose between the lesser of two so called evils.
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Herb Lady | Jul 12, 2011
 
I am in support of any homeopathic medicine given to children in pain. Cannabis is an all natural plant and if grown organically it can provide many healing effects. It is archaic to believe a child should suffer any ailment that could be treated by eating an MMJ edible. Many parents may have to choose between the lesser of two so called evils.