There are few touchier issues in the legalization debate right now than medical marijuana use and children. However, it shouldn’t have to be this way. Medical Marijuana is not only a legitimate drug for providing therapeutic relief (if not more) to very sick adults, Medical Cannabis helps children with illnesses as well. Some of the most cutting-edge research in the world right now is in fact focussed on precisely this vertical of the marijuana market.
Treating Children with Marijuana
Cancer – one of the leading causes of death for children between the ages of 5-9 and Dravet’s Syndrome (a devastating form of childhood epilepsy). The drugs used may be cannabinoid-based, but they are also different from the medical marijuana given to adults.
Children are not given the smokeable form of the drug. It is almost always administered orally in a pill, paste or oil. That said, as research and application methods improve, the drug may also be given topically (in the form of a crème or ointment).
Medical Cannabis helps children in the same ways as adults from the medical use of the drug. In the case of cancer, children suffer not only reduced pain from cancer treatments but may also (as seen in adults) see a reduction in tumors beyond chemo.
Epilepsy– is a debilitating condition some Children suffer from but it is possible for them to stop having seizures after taking low-THC doses of cannabinoid medications.
Legalising Treatment for Children
The American Academy of Paediatricians has also now repeatedly told the DEA that it should reschedule the drug to a Schedule II, to allow more research and easier administration of the drug by physicians to children.
On the epilepsy front, this is already happening without rescheduling. GW Pharma, a British company which was founded in 1998 with the specific purpose of creating cannabinoid drugs, just cleared major trials in both the U.S. and Canada for a new cannabinoid-based medicine called Epidiolex, designed specifically for Dravet’s Syndrome.
Charlotte’s Web, a specially bred form of marijuana with low levels of THC, is also widely prescribed in states like Colorado, where it was first formulated. Argentina also moved forward in September 2016 to administer Charlotte’s Web through its health system, becoming not only the first country in Latin America to legalize medical use, but to also start the process with children. Out of the 23 states who have legalized medical use, all but 2 allow childhood use with proper medical supervision.
No matter how controversial it may sound, having a sick child improve dramatically, to the point of even reversal of a devastating (if not fatal) illness should overcome any queasiness about giving the drug to children in the first place.
Ethically, there should be no debate. This is a drug. End of story.
That said, it is always best to involve a medical professional in the process.
How to Deal with Negativity
Beyond the immediate impact between child and parent, giving a sick child the drug might be an issue for others.
No matter the reaction from others (which is why it is usually best to keep this in the family, particularly at first), the dramatic improvement in your child’s health is the most important issue.
Go slow on revealing that you are giving your child this treatment. Other people may react badly. This starts with friends and family but is not limited to the same.
If your child is in school, chances are it will probably cause some controversy. On this front, be prepared with the facts.
Start with your child’s rights. While unfortunately the drug has not been rescheduled (yet), your child has the right to a safe and secure environment, no matter what drug they take. If you are in a state where marijuana use is legal, try to obtain as many facts as you can.
If you are also prepared to do this (and your child is a willing participant), show all who object before and after videos. One of the most compelling reasons that Charlotte’s Web marijuana began to be accepted as a medication is the videos that parents took of their children before and after application of the drug.
Be Aware and Take Care
To date, thankfully, there have been no custody cases hinging on the treatment of children with medical marijuana. Further, no children, at least in the United States, have been removed from parents because of such treatment (although this has been an issue elsewhere). However be aware, particularly if you live in a non-medical state, that this is also a (terrifying) possibility.
Many families with sick children from states where Medical Cannabis is not legal yet (or not for children) have also literally picked up stakes and moved to states where it is legal (starting with Colorado). There are also several foundations who help parents with sick children find help if not medicine.
Cannabis helps children deal with some very serious illnesses, and what parent who is open to the use of cannabis wouldn’t want to be able to prove them with a better quality of life? We shouldn’t be holding this treatment back but instead, carefully administer and monitor its use.
If you are after Medical Marijuana to possibly treat your child, start now- Do your research. There is help out there. Don’t stop until you find it.