Toddlers on Pot: The Rise of Marijuana Treatment for Children
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Toddlers on Pot: The Rise of Marijuana Treatment for Children


Although the 2000’s may lack the joie de vivre of the 20’s, the family values of the 50’s and the booming economy of the 80’s, no one can argue we aren’t living in historical times. With all the rapid changes—like our utter reliance on the Internet and the creation of iPhones—it’s hard to keep up with what’s coming next. But whatever it is, it’s coming and it’s coming fast.

Weed for Kids

A prime example? The movement to use marijuana to treat medical ailments in children—even toddlers—who are suffering from epilepsy. Controversial? Yes. Early pot use has a serious impact on the brain, which doesn’t finish forming until the mid-twenties. Still, states like California, Colorado and Oregon have already approved this movement. And it looks like Illinois may be the next state to follow suit with their recent House committee approval.

Look, I get it—giving your three-year old marijuana might be a hard thing to understand if you aren’t a parent with a child who is suffering from seizures 24/7 (despite taking the standard epilepsy medication) or seem “stoned” on an FDA-approved med like Dilantin or Depakote.

If you think that pot would only cause kids to seem more “drugged out,” know that parents have reported that their epileptic kids actually seem more alert on CBD oil—aka Cannabidol (one of the active chemicals in the cannabis plant)—than they do on their normal meds. This is likely due to the kind of pot that is being used. “Charlotte’s Web,” one of the more popular brands of CBD oil, is from a strain of marijuana that’s high in CBD but low in THC (the stuff in pot that makes you feel baked).

Feds and DEA Need to Catch Up

While the medical marijuana movement seems to be hard at work, one thing that is not happening fast enough is the federal government’s appeal to change the Drug Enforcement Agency’s classification of pot as Schedule 1 substance. Being in the same drug class as powerful hallucinogens like LSD and MDMA doesn’t do much for the kid cause. It also doesn’t help that the scientific evidence that CBD oil is an effective treatment for medical conditions like epilepsy is lacking. There just aren’t enough clinical trials or evidence of the long-term effects of marijuana use. Apparently, the functionality of the baby boomers isn’t enough. I mean, c’mon, my mom smoked (okay, smokes) a ton of weed and she turned out fine.

How Pot Trumps Prescriptions

What is kind of annoying is that what we lack in scientific and clinical evidence in favor of marijuana as an alternative medicine for children, we have in spades against the long-term effects of pharmaceuticals. Bonni Goldstein, MD, the Medical Director at the marijuana technology company Ghost Group and a California doctor who commonly treats kids with cannabis (though it’s unclear whether she has her own local billboard), argues that the prescribed medication for epilepsy can lead to liver failure, aplastic anemia and regression of behavior and growth and development. And while I support whatever works best to treat an ailment, I will argue that putting your kid on a weed oil regime isn’t going to spare him from regression in behavior or arrests in development (I’ve dated enough potheads to know that is just par for the course).

Regardless of industry recognized data, Goldstein reports that she’s had a lot of success administering CBD oil to patients, reporting that about 70%-75% of them experienced a reduction in seizures. A similar finding was published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, when 16 of the 19 kids experienced decreased symptoms of epilepsy (and in two cases the epilepsy disappeared completely) when treated with CBD oil as an alternative to mainstream pharmaceutical medication.

Family Matters

At the end of the day, the decision to give marijuana to a child who is suffering and not responding to mainstream meds should be in the hands of the parents. And with many families packing up and moving to states where CBD treatment for children is approved, it seems that, regardless of how quickly things move on the federal level, the medical marijuana ball is in motion. The demand will meet the supply, even if the demanders have to move there.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.