Thanks to technology and the ability to rapidly spread information around the globe, medical cannabis is taking the world by storm. Surprisingly, many of the most astounding medical cannabis stories come from children. While it may seem shocking to offer any sort of illicit substance to a child, in some cases, the herb can save lives and end unnecessary suffering. But, when is it okay to give a child cannabis?
When is it OK to give children cannabis?
While many parents would be hard pressed to find a doctor who will recommend pediatric cannabis for the common flu or a broken bone, the herb has shown great potential in symptom management for a variety of serious childhood diseases.
When it comes to the management of symptoms like severe pain and seizures, many doctors are more than open to the idea of cannabis medicines.
In fact, a 2016 survey presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting found that 92 percent of pediatric oncologists would recommend medical cannabis to their patients. The survey polled 301 doctors in three different medical cannabis states.
For many professionals, the decision to recommend or overlook medical cannabis is about ethics. In a 2003 piece published by Medical Science Monitor, Peter Clark argues that denying children access to medical cannabis is unethical. He writes,
Medically, to deny physicians the right to prescribe to their patients a therapy that relieves pain and suffering violates the physician/patient relationship.
Yet, while there is more cannabis research now than ever before, firm trials and information on the long-term effects of the herb are lacking. Not to mention, the plant’s status as an illicit substance in most countries around the world means that high-quality human trials on the cannabis efficacy and safety are almost nonexistent.
4 pediatric conditions treated with medical cannabis
Though sufficient clinical trials are lacking, there are three primary conditions treated with medical cannabis. Doctors are not legally allowed to prescribe medical cannabis products. Rather, doctors in the United States can simply recommend the herb.
Elsewhere in the world, doctors cannot even mention it to their patients. Here are four instances where children may be treated with medical cannabis:
Many children and adults with cancer turn to cannabis products for relief. The herb is often helpful to patients undergoing chemotherapy, as it reduces nausea and vomiting and eases pain. Already, both synthetic and real cannabis pharmaceuticals are available in some countries for these exact symptoms.
Some parents even credit cannabis for bringing their child’s cancer into remission. Though this may sound miraculous, early laboratory research has shown that the plant has powerful anti-cancer properties.
A piece by Mary Biles published on Huffington Post details stories from pediatric cannabis patients, including seven-year-old cancer survivor Landon Riddle.
Landon was diagnosed with leukemia when he was two years old, and his mother, Wendy Riddle, quickly incorporated highly concentrated medical cannabis oil into his treatment plan. She tells Huffington Post,
I think that the chemo in combination with the cannabis did put him into remission and now the cannabis will keep him there.
For more information on cannabis for pediatric cancer, take a look at the article here.
Recently, one pharmaceutical company has had successful human trials of a cannabis-based medicine in two different types of epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome, and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. Both conditions affect primarily children, can be life-threatening, and can cause dozens of seizures each day.
The medicine contains pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol (CBD), a component of the cannabis plant that doesn’t cause a “high”. Already, parents have successfully stopped their child’s seizures with concentrated medical cannabis extracts.
Vera Twomey of Ireland is one of them. Twomey’s daughter, Ava, has Dravet Syndrome and experiences up to 20 seizures each day. At one point, after exhausting all of the conventional options, Ava had a heart attack at six years old.
Though cannabis is illegal in the country, Twomey was able to access CBD as a dietary supplement. After beginning CBD treatment, Ava’s seizures reduced by 80 percent. Twomey tells Huffington Post,
She was standing up straighter, she was making more eye contact and the next thing in a family joke, Ava’s giggling just like the other kids. She had never laughed like that before. She’s so much better. We’re seeing another side of Ava.
We always knew she was beautiful and wonderful, but she’s just able to put her point across a little bit more.
For more information on cannabis and epilepsy, read the full article here.
Psychoactive cannabis may prove extremely helpful to both parents and patients with severe autism. Some U.S. states allow medical cannabis for autism, as significant anecdotal cases have found that eases self-injurious and aggressive behavior, as well as improve communication skills.
Meiko Hester-Perez, who’s son Joey has autism, has found success with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component in the herb that causes a “high”. Now, she advocates for medical cannabis and has gone on U.S. national television about her son’s radical transformation with the treatment. She tells Huffington Post,
When you’re a parent of a child with autism, you have very simple goals and one of my goals was just to see my son smile. Joey started interacting with other people. He doesn’t speak, but he now has a joking personality, something we hadn’t seen before.
For more information on cannabis and autism, take a look at the full article here.
4. Debilitating diseases and conditions
As a powerful muscle relaxant, pain management tool, and anti-nausea medication, there are several other cases where cannabis may prove to be an effective alternative to conventional medicines.
Though firm scientific evidence and human trials are lacking, there are many other pediatric conditions that some researchers hope may one day be treated with cannabis or cannabinoid medicines. These include,
- Muscular dystrophy
- Cerebral palsy
- Cystic fibrosis
- Failure to thrive
- Head trauma
- Severe accident or injury
For more stories about success with pediatric cannabis, check out this article here.