There are so many products that we deem safe for adults but dangerous for children. These includes alcohol, caffeine and of course, cannabis. The first two have been scientifically studied and designated as unsuitable for youth. However, the latter substance, cannabis, is much more contested. This is especially the case as this plant is making headway regarding its medical legitimacy with users of all ages. Even when doctors are curious and generally “supportive” of treating your child with cannabis, we know them to be cautious and not that directive.
The courage and fortitude of parents who have chosen cannabis compounds to treat their children facing life-threatening illness have raised eyebrows. Some live in terror that their government will take their child away, since medical marijuana is only legal in some states. However, there are numerous cases demonstrating the benefits of clinical cannabis, which happen to threaten a very profitable healthcare industry that relies on conventional drugs, as well as political agendas. Yet, if your child is severely ill, the questionable risks associated with medical cannabis may be nothing in comparison to giving your kid their life back and here are some things to consider regarding children and cannabis.
Educate yourself about the options
Pay attention to strains, ratios of CBD:THC, concentrations, extraction methods and carrier oils when making comparisons between products and brands. Talk to some folks “in the know” around town. The stories are endless of the positive impact that marijuana has made for patients of all ages —yes, including children. Oblivion will ultimately be the enemy in this discussion. Blind and lazy opinions will prevent folks from exploring every possible option to improve their medical condition.
Across the country, thousands of children use medical marijuana for a range of ailments including intractable epilepsy, pain, anxiety and symptoms of multiple sclerosis. As the number of pediatric medical users grows, so do issues that confront parents, patients, doctors and policymakers. There are no federal laws specifically covering children’s use of medical marijuana, and state laws on the subject are a complex and sometimes contradictory patchwork. Twenty-nine states and the District have made medical marijuana of all kinds legal. Among those state is Maryland, which has not yet set up a system for distribution. Another 15 states, including Virginia, allow people to use cannabis containing high levels of CBD and low levels of the psychoactive component THC. In large part, these laws have come in response to pressure from parents of children with severe epilepsy and other illnesses that may be treated with CBD. However, none of these states has a distribution system with licensed dispensaries. As a result, parents are left to find cannabis through other sources, either buying it in another state and bringing it home or buying it from a dealer — both of which are illegal under federal law.
Tell your doctor
Its really better for everyone. Cannabis is a really big topic in healthcare right now, I’m guessing you won’t be their first parent to ask about it. If your doctor isn’t “supportive”, there is either a good reason to be considered, or you need to find a more progressive physician.
Talk to other parents
WE are the wisdom holders when it comes to treating children with cannabis. Not physicians. This is intimidating at first, but I can assure you, it becomes very empowering over time. Pediatric cannabis is a very personalized and collaborative form of treatment.
All about ethics
The debate about whether or not parents should be allowed to give their children medical marijuana has been going on for quite a while. Back in 2003, Peter Clark made a case for the child’s right to medical cannabis. “Medically,” begins Clark, “to deny physicians the right to prescribe to their patients a therapy that relieves pain and suffering violates the physician/patient relationship.” Fortunately, though long-term data is still lacking, there are a few studies that might help pave the way for movement on the pediatric cannabis front.
Effects On The Brain
Cannabis affects every person differently and the experience of one user can be vastly different from another. Science hasn’t yet examined what might cause our bodies to react differently to cannabis, but with increased interest in the plant as a medicinal product, our questions may be answered soon. Because of this uncertainty, being cautious in exposing children to this plant is key—the last thing any parent wants is for their child to have an adverse reaction.
Create a treatment plan and take good notes
There is a comfort that comes with having a plan. Creating clear treatment goals and steps for how to get there are important because its very easy to get scared and go rogue. Especially parents weaning pharmaceutical medications and contending with withdrawal effects. Referring to a well-thought out dosing schedule and titration plan can slow you down and help keep you focused.
Start low, go slow
The big question is: how do you know how much to give your child? No one has a definite answer. The standard dose for an adult is thought to be 10 to 25mg of active THC. There is no such set standard for children. Further, if a child is suffering from a severe medical condition, they may need more than the standard dose to cope with the pain of chemotherapy or to put an end to seizures. Without firm dosage information readily available, we have no idea whether or not there is a safe amount to give. Your dosage will also vary significantly if you’re giving your child a product containing THC versus one containing only CBD. Yet, there’s no official guideline to tell you exactly how much your child should be taking. The only way to deal with dosage issues is to work very closely with your child’s doctors and your dispensary. Less is often more for a number of reasons. There are a few different dosing schedules floating around based on mgs per pound or kilogram of your child. The addition of too much can be just as problematic as too little. Dosing in small amounts can give you more control in looking for that sweet spot.
Test your kid
Before and while treating with cannabis. Good baseline test results are key for measuring improvement over time, including blood work on pharmaceutical medications, EEGs, MRIs etc. Rechecking periodically after starting also helps check for potentially dangerous drug interactions that can develop over time.
Parents who opt for pediatric cannabis are between a rock and a hard place. Regardless, there’s no doubt that the herb has been a true life-saver for children and adults alike. At this point, there just simply isn’t enough scientific evidence to definitively say whether or not cannabis is safe for children. Ultimately, if your child is suffering from an ailment that your doctor thinks might be relieved by cannabis use, it’s up to you as a parent to decide what’s best. Concerning recreational use amongst kids, cannabis is similar to alcohol in that it must be consumed responsibly. Better education and science regarding cannabis will help kids make these decisions from an informed perspective and will help you decide how to discuss the topic with your family.