A very controversial debate currently raging in the mainstream media is the subject of Medical Cannabis and children. Many people are arguing that Cannabis has no place in a child’s therapy for any reason; others argue that it should be the first line in any treatment, for a wide array of benefits. The population of supporters for medical marijuana is constantly growing, even so, using it for a child seems to stir passionate beliefs from both sides of the fence.
Cannabis — even for medical purposes — is both federally illegal and listed as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it is considered a highly dangerous drug with no currently accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse.
Recently the number of states that have allowed the creation of a statewide Medical Marijuana program has grown to 20 plus D.C. This allows people with qualifying conditions to possess, use, grow and sometimes even sell medical Cannabis. The programs vary state to state, with some being far less restrictive than others. The medical marijuana movement has grown exponentially in size, with pleas and demands for the relaxation of restrictions held in place on Cannabis and Hemp by the federal government.
Even with the prohibition of Cannabis, parents are choking back the fear of oppression as they make the choice to treat their beloved child with plant medicine. Some parents have chosen to speak out, hoping to inform and inspire other parents who may be feeling desperation in the search to help their child.
When asked about my opinion on medical cannabis and children, the easy answer is to say, “Of course!”
Honestly, I feel that any critically ill child deserves to have a quality of life equal to their peers or as close to as possible. Children with Cancer, epilepsy, mitochondrial diseases, Autistic children and many other conditions deserve the chance to feel the whole body benefits of Cannabis. If someone can accept giving their child dangerous pharmaceutical medications every single day; medicine that has many unwanted side effects and addictive properties, then why is it not just as acceptable to start with Cannabis before progressing on to the harsher medicine? Why should this medicine not be available to a child? I have yet to hear a reasonable answer as to why it shouldn’t. I hear claims of addiction, lack of research and illegality the majority of the time.
In my opinion those are easy problems to solve-
1. Addiction= Cannabis is far less addictive than many of the additives in our everyday food supply, let alone the opioid medications routinely prescribed to children of all ages. In my opinion addiction is an invalid point.
2. Research= The research is all around us. Some research has been done and people all over are using cannabis medicinally right now, and all that is being told are the benefits.
3. Illegality= Illegal is just a word. It has as much power as we the people allow it to possess. Laws are there for very specific reasons, but some laws do more harm than good.
“From working with cancer patients, I repeatedly saw how marijuana could ameliorate a patient’s debilitating fatigue, restore appetite, diminish pain, remedy nausea, cure vomiting and curtail down-to-the-bone weight loss.”
Kate Scannell, MD, Co-Director of the Kaiser-Permanente Northern California Ethics Department
Here are six reasons that medical Cannabis should be allowed for children
1. Low toxicity
When searching the web and looking through literature for a relevant statistic on the acute toxicity of Cannabis Sativa, I found it nearly impossible. I read through multiple studies discussing the toxicity of this plant; the facts I found were almost humorous-
“The non-fatal consumption of 3000 mg/kg A THC by the dog and monkey would be comparable to a 154-pound human eating approximately 46 pounds (21 kilograms) of 1%-marihuana or 10 pounds of 5% hashish at one time. In addition, 92 mg/kg THC intravenously produced no fatalities in monkeys. These doses would be comparable to a 154-pound human smoking at one time almost three pounds (1.28 kg) of 1%-marihuana or 250,000 times the usual smoked dose and over a million times the minimal effective dose assuming 50% destruction of the THC by smoking.”
Factually speaking, the chances of any human being actually lethally overdosing using Cannabis would be little to none.
“In summary, enormous doses of Delta 9 THC, All THC and concentrated marihuana extract ingested by mouth were unable to produce death or organ pathology in large mammals but did produce fatalities in smaller rodents due to profound central nervous system depression.”
2. Mood stabilizer/enhancer
It is widely understood that Cannabis enhances ones mood when consumed in any form. There is no denying the unequivocal happiness as an integral part of any cannabis experience. When a patient is suffering a decline in the quality of life whether due to disease process or therapy regimen, happiness is a key part in healing.
Struggling with a life threatening illness or a debilitating condition can result in depression, no matter your age.
“Some patients have found the mood altering effects of marijuana to be helpful for treating mood disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar (manic-depressive) illness. Using marijuana to treat mood disorders was described in medical writings in the 19th and early 20th centuries…”
Bill Zimmerman, PhD, Author: Is Marijuana the Right Medicine For You?
3. Appetite stimulant & Nausea Relief
When a patient is undergoing Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy treatments, appetite for and intake of food is an ongoing worry. The toxic load of the therapy itself contributes to an overall decline in the want for food, presenting as poor appetite, a lack of appetite, smell and texture induced nausea and vomiting or early satiety. There is little a physician can do to combat this problem.
Here are some of the current treatments available for appetite stimulation:
– Megestrol acetate (Megace®) comes in a pill and liquid form.
– Metoclopramide (Reglan®) comes in tablets (pill) and in liquid form.
– Dronabinol (Marinol®) comes in a capsule (pill) form.
– Steroids like prednisone or dexamethasone (Decadron®) can increase your appetite and sense of wellbeing. These also come in tablets and liquid form.
– Alcohol, one glass of wine or beer, can help stimulate your appetite and add some calories to your meal.
Dronabinol is the synthetic form of Tetrahydrocannabinol – It is said to be equally effective as naturally derived THC, but studies have shown this is not accurate. Natural THC in combination with other compounds native to the Cannabis plant have been shown to offset chemotherapy or narcotic induced anorexia or nausea with more efficacy than synthetic forms.
“Opponents of medical marijuana often point to dronabinol, the synthetic version of one of marijuana’s active ingredients that is available in pill form. The use of only one active ingredient makes dronabinol less effective than medical marijuana. Many ailments respond better to a combination of marijuana’s active ingredients rather than just one. In addition, because dronabinol is a pill, it is difficult for people with nausea and vomiting to swallow. Finally, like any medication that’s swallowed, dronabinol takes a long time to digest and have its effects. Inhaled or vaporized marijuana vapors can work markedly faster.”
Mitch Earleywine, PhD
4. Non-opioid pain management
In normal pain, Pain sensing signals and responses are triggered by an external or internal stimulus. In chronic pain, these signals can be initiated for unknown reasons. In many cases pain is a result of inflammation in the body. The first line in pain management is over the counter Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil and Ibuprofen; followed by opioid analgesics such as Fentanyl, Hydrocodone and morphine.
NSAIDs cause damage to Gastrointestinal Tract, the renal system as well as proving to be Hepato-Toxic. Opioid Medications are addictive, cause nausea/vomiting, itching, respiratory depression among many other adverse events. Psychological and Physiological dependence to opioid drugs is a complex health condition that can take years to treat.
Evidence indicates that Cannabis and its derivatives have very beneficial analgesic (Pain-reducing) and antinociceptive [increased pain tolerance] properties that have been found to be useful for an abundance of pain related conditions.
“Cannabis can serve at least two important roles in safe, effective pain management. It can provide relief from the pain itself (either alone or in combination with other analgesics), and it can control the nausea associated with taking opioid drugs, as well as the nausea, vomiting and dizziness that often accompany severe, prolonged pain.”
Americans for Safe Access
5. Anti-neoplastic agent
There is a great deal of controversy surrounding Cannabis and Cancer. Anecdotal reports as well as current medical and scientific studies show that Cannabis has a high potential in the treatment of many Cancers.
In a study done by the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical College of Virginia researchers tested the hypothesis that Cannabis may treat or cure cancer. They used THC to treat human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines and this is what they found:
“Culture of primary acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells with THC in vitro reduced cell viability and induced apoptosis. Together, the current data demonstrate that CB2 cannabinoid receptors expressed on malignancies of the immune system may serve as potential targets for the induction of apoptosis. Also, because CB2 agonists lack psychotropic effects, they may serve as novel anticancer agents to selectively target and kill tumors of immune origin.”
In summary, this study shows undeniable evidence that Cannabis is an effective and non-toxic treatment for leukemia.
The leukemia and lymphoma society provide these statistics:
a. One person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer approximately every four minutes.
b. An estimated combined total of 149,990 people in the United States will be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2013.
c. New cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma will account for 9 percent of the 1,660,290 new cancer cases diagnosed in the United States this year.
Essentially if one person is diagnosed every four minutes with this severely life-threatening form of cancer, and Cannabis can effectively treat this cancer, wouldn’t it be safe to assume that Cannabis does have medicinal value? Cannabis can save one life every four minutes if it was available as a treatment option.
There are studies proving the efficacy of cannabis in the treatment of many other Cancers as well such as:
Mouth and Throat Cancer
Uterine, Testicular, and Pancreatic Cancers
Biliary Tract Cancer
Cancer Research Links:
6. Seizure management/cessation
Epilepsy is a chronic seizure disorder that affects about 2 million Americans and 65 million people worldwide. There are over 150,000 new cases of epilepsy diagnosed annually. The condition is characterized by recurrent sudden attacks of altered consciousness, convulsions, or other motor activity either recurrent or unprovoked. A seizure is the synchronized excitation of large groups of brain cells. Some types of epilepsy are: Dravet’s syndrome, Frontal lobe epilepsy, Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Temporal lobe epilepsy
Recently the use of primarily high-CBD cannabis and derivatives in the treatment of epileptic children has garnered national media attention. Parents across the country who have grown weary with the medical establishment, with raising and caring for an epileptic child are turning away from western medicine and choosing to break the barriers of stigma that surround Cannabis by experimentally, and successfully treating even the most severe cases of epilepsy in all ages of children.
“The mechanisms of the anticonvulsant activity of cannabidiol (CBD) and the central excitation of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) were investigated electrophysiologically with conscious, unrestrained cobalt epileptic rats. The well-known antiepileptics, trimethadione (TMO), ethosuximide (ESM), and phenytoin (PHT), were included as reference drugs. Direct measurements were made of spontaneously firing, epileptic potentials from a primary focus on the parietal cortex and convulsions were monitored visually. ESM and TMO decreased the frequency of focal potentials, but PHT and CBD exerted no such effect. Although CBD did not suppress the focal abnormality, it did abolish jaw and limb clonus; in contrast, Δ9-THC markedly increased the frequency of focal potentials, evoked generalized bursts of polyspikes, and produced frank convulsions. 11-OH-Δ9-THC, the major metabolite of Δ9-THC, displayed only one of the excitatory properties of the parent compound: production of bursts of polyspikes. In contrast to Δ9-THC and its 11-OH metabolite, CBD, even in very high doses, did not induce any excitatory effects or convulsions. The present study provides the first evidence that CBD exerts anticonvulsant activity against the motor manifestations of a focal epilepsy, and that the mechanism of the effect may involve a depression of seizure generation or spread in the CNS.”
The Influence of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol on Cobalt Epilepsy in Rats
1. Pauline Chiu,
2. Donna M. Olsen,
3. Henry K. Borys,
4. Ralph Karler,
5. Stuart A. Turkanis
Article first published online: 5 NOV 2007
Cannabis — From 1860 to its removal from availability to physicians in 1937 at least 12 separate therapeutic uses for cannabis were described:
2. Appetite stimulant
4. Prophylactic and treatment of the neuralgias, including migraine and tic douoreux
9. Topical anesthetic
10. Withdrawal agent for opiate and alcohol addiction
11. Childbirth analgesic
In unsuccessful opposition to the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act that he correctly feared would deprive Americans of Medicinal Cannabis, Dr. William C. Woodward, expressed the official stance of the American Medical Association:
“…there is positively no evidence to indicate the abuse of cannabis as a medicinal agent or to show that its medicinal use is leading to the development of cannabis addiction.
Cannabis at the present time is slightly used for medicinal purposes, but it would seem worthwhile to maintain its status as a medicinal agent for such purposes as it now has.
There is a possibility that a re-study of the drug by modern means may show other advantages to be derived from its medicinal use”
(Report of the Committee on Legislative Activities 1937)
Here is what some parents have to say about treating their children with Cannabis:
Erin Purchase says:
Mykayla blossomed into a very healthy and happy little girl with the use of cannabis oil. Prior to the use of cannabis oil Mykayla was very sick, tired, not playful, sad, tearful, refused to eat, just very sick in general… not to mention she had cancer in her bone marrow and blood. We administered cannabis oil and within one week her cancer was gone… her smile had return… her appetite was bigger than ever… and she began to put on all the weight that she had lost. She would laugh and smile, never once complaining of any serious pain. We anticipated the terrible moments we were warned about by her oncologists…. Only to have them never appear. I thank cannabis oil for the success that we have seen during Mykayla’s journey with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Karen Masters-Foster says:
My son has decreased seizures; ones he does have are shorter and less severe, faster recovery time, decreased light and pattern sensitivity ( first med to ever touch this) , increased cognition, increased attention span , able to reduce AED’s … Weaned CLB, decreased Depakote by half… Improved EEG! He can play outside again!!!!! ( due to decrease light and pattern sensitivity) for us this was HUGE!!!!
Meg Eigo Coldwells says:
My son (8 years old) started having Grand Mal /clonic tonic seizures out of the blue when he turned 5. It has been a tough 3 years of trying many pharms with every side effect and 2 week long stays at Children’s Hospital LA last year for clusters we could not stop.
Since starting CBD on June 11, 2013 (only 9 weeks ago) his seizures are far less frequent, shorter and less intense, his speech is not slurred and slow and I could go on. He is almost 100% back to his charming, silly self..so much so that I have forgotten to give him his mid day meds till 3 pm a few days last week and he never even had a “blip”! His Neuro is thrilled and we are starting the weaning process currently of getting him off Zonegran and then off Onfi. He might even be able to go back to school (fingers crossed)!!!
Shan Moore says:
My son Chaz has myoclonus diaphramic flutter. He was on all the seizures meds Parkinson’s disease meds, all the benzo’s, etc. He has been pharmaceutical free for over 3 years now.
Dustee Sage says:
My daughter has a brain tumor. She takes keppra. It’s only been a week using Cannabis Oil, but she is much happier already. She is 13, and started to get very depressed. She is back to her happy, out-going, silly self again. No negative affects.
Here are what doctors have to say:
“Doctors and nurses have seen that for many patients, cannabis is more useful, less toxic, and less expensive than the conventional medicines prescribed for diverse syndromes and symptoms, including multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, migraine headaches, severe nausea and vomiting, convulsive disorders, the AIDS wasting syndrome, chronic pain, and many others.”
Lester Grinspoon, MD, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical
“Like all medicines, marijuana has its drawbacks, particularly in smoked form. It is not a panacea. I support research into safer delivery systems such as low-temperature vaporizers or inhalers, which offer the fast action of inhaled medicine without the irritants found in smoke. Still, I have seen in my own studies that marijuana is less toxic than most pharmaceutical drugs in current use, and is certainly helpful for some patients, including those with wasting syndrome, chronic muscle spasticity and tractable nausea. As a physician, I am frustrated that I cannot prescribe marijuana for patients who might benefit from it. At the very least I would like to be able to refer them to a safe, reliable, quality-controlled source.”
Andrew Weil, MD, University of Arizona College of Medicine
“The medical benefits of marijuana (cannabis) are pretty well established. There is voluminous scientific research on the subject(2) that verifies its efficacy when applied to a variety of medical conditions, and plenty of first-hand evidence that it works for those who use it for their own health problems. While this first-hand testimony that comes from real patients is usually the type of evidence that scientific purists disparage as “anecdotal,” it is, in my opinion, the type of real-life experiential information that we should trust at least as much as the abstract statistical analyses of scientific studies.”
Larry Malerba, D.O.
Medical Cannabis is the right thing for suffering children
It seems it has become a matter of humanity.