Medical Marijuana for Children: Is Pediatric Pot Worth It?

    July 10, 2013
    David Powell
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The legalization of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, is one of those political issues that everyone seems to have inordinately strong opinions about. Well, good news, debate fans, now it’s for kids.

Doctors are at odds as to whether prescribing pot for children is a good idea. Critics, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have argued that prescribing marijuana for young children hasn’t been sufficiently tested and the long term effects of juvenile use are unknown. Other groups, such as the Clinicians’ Institute for Cannabis Medicine, argue that marijuana can be bred so as to downplay its psychoactive qualities.

In the case of 11-year-old Zaki Jackson, medical marijuana has been a life-saver. Jackson was diagnosed at six months old with a form of epilepsy so severe that it caused up to 250 seizures per day. His parents tried 17 different medications over a span of 10 years to try and calm the seizures, but nothing worked.

Then Zaki’s doctor prescribed pot.

“We are Christians,” Zaki’s mother Heather says. “We are conservative. And we’re using medical marijuana. That’s a kind of big hump for people to get over. Despite the stigma associated with cannabis, we owed it to Zaki to give it a try.”

It worked like a charm. “I probably stared at him for a good three hours after his first dose and then I fell asleep. I didn’t feel any seizures after his first dose,” his mother reports. In the eight months since Zaki began the reefer regimen, he has finally been able to do regular little kid things, like ride a swing.

Zaki’s pot is specially bred to have low levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot, but higher levels of a cannabinoid called cannabidiol, or CBD. While both THC and CBD impact pain, nausea, and seizures, CBD isn’t psychoactive, meaning that kids using this type of marijuana won’t get high.

Still, some experts are skeptical. Dr. Sharon Levy of the Boston Children’s Hospital reiterates that clinical trials are lacking. Levy also notes that some substances that once promised cures have long since been dismissed as ineffective or harmful. “A couple of generations ago physicians were recommending tobacco as a good method of relaxation or to relieve stress,” Levy says. “It seems unbelievable now.”

  • Clarence

    If smoking pot relieves pain for terminal patients (even kids), why not let them smoke in peace? People need to expand their horizons and open their minds a little.

  • Name

    I am all for this. I have never used a drug ever, so I am not saying this because I am a pothead. It is just that scientists around the world are researching the medicinal value of marijuana and are finding many potentially wonderful benefits. As long as everything is properly tested, I see absolutely no harm in pursuing that kind of research here.

    I also think it is hypocritical that alcohol is legal and pot is illegal. Alcohol makes people very violent, yet we give people years in prison for pot even though pot makes people as mellow as can be. Then again, nowadays people are being thrown in prison for even the smallest of things. Heck, people are being thrown into prisons now for tweeting and after being setup on the internet by crazy people, so I guess that shouldn’t surprise me.

  • katherine

    For hundreds of years different types of herbs have been given to kids and adults..the only reason anyone is saying anything is because of the “stigma of a pothead”.. The child is not getting high and it helps so why not. Long term effects? Really? How many commercials do you see on t.v. about lawsuits going on because of some pill that was “approved” and has ruined and or causes death. Hence the lawyer ads that are so desperate foe you to sue. I say go for it.

  • http://www.ohiorightsgroup.org Christina E.

    Absolutely. This is about MEDICAL marijuana applications. This is in raw, oil, or some other non-psychoactive form with low THC (the reason for the “high”), and high CBD and/or THCa (non-psychoactive ingredients). In a medical application, this can literally save a child’s life!! I believe this NATURAL MEDICINE should be available to ANYONE who needs it.

    Check out http://WWW.OHIORIGHTSGROUP.ORG for information on the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment that will appear on the November 2014 state ballot to amend the constitution to allow medical cannabis and industrial hemp for Ohio’s citizens once enough signatures are gathered. You also can find information on places to sign the petition and how YOU can help ensure these rights are restored at http://www.facebook.com/ohiorightsgroup. UNITED WE WIN!