Community conversation has been focused on the legalization of marijuana. There has also been much discussion about what legalization might mean for adolescents and children with severe or chronic illnesses. Parents need to be aware that legalization does NOT mean more or faster access to treatment for certain medical conditions. Legalization could make things more complicated. We are here to answer for any questions you may have.
What Is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana refers to marijuana used for treat a medical condition as prescribed by a doctor. Marijuana (or cannabis Sativa) is the common name of the plant. Its two main components are cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol. Only Ohio residents can legally possess medical marijuana if they have received a recommendation from their doctor. All other forms are strictly forbidden in Ohio.
The chances of accidental exposure to medical marijuana products increase as they become more common. A family should consider using medical marijuana to treat their children. Infused edibles and products can be mistaken for food or candy by curious children. This presents a serious risk of harm.
What About CBD?
It is important to remember that CBD is not marijuana. Instead, it is a chemical in cannabis. FDA approves CBD for treating severe epilepsy, including Lennox–Gastaut and Dravet forms. Epidiolex (TM) is different from other CBD-containing products. Epidiolex (TM) does not contain medical marijuana. It is FDA-approved and regulated the same way as any FDA-approved medication.
CBD products are becoming more readily available over the counter. Many CBD products claim medical benefits. You may have even seen CBD-infused soda water at your local grocer. There are concerns that CBD products with inconsistent quality and consistency will become more common after medical marijuana legalization. Medical providers share these concerns.
CBD purchased from someone the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve is not guaranteed to be purified. Month-to-month variations in CBD products have been seen in legal states. Although the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program requires that products be tested in a laboratory, FDA approval is not yet granted. A laboratory that can accurately identify the product’s content may not perform the testing. If the product has not been thoroughly studied and is consistent, it may pose a danger to a patient or child.
What About THC?
THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes people feel “high,” euphoria, and increased appetite, is known as THC. Children & young adults between the ages of 12 and 23 have significant brain development changes that make marijuana use risky. The body already produces a natural cannabinoid that helps to build brain connections. The brain’s maturation from simple to high-functioning computers happens during adolescence. Adding THC to the system can cause dysfunction. Nerve connections may form erratically or imperfectly. This could lead to a decline in intelligence, memory impairment, and a greater risk of sustaining substance abuse for life. For younger adolescents, the brain can become hardwired to use extra THC, especially if the brain has been allowed to mature.
What About Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic cannabinoids can be dangerous. Synthetic marijuana can be 100 times more potent than the original cannabis. Names like JWH-018, Spice K-2, King Kong Relief and Relief can cause seizures, delirium, and comas. Some synthetic marijuana contaminants have caused life-threatening bleeding.
What Should Families At Nationwide Children’s Hospital Know?
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes medical marijuana use in children and adolescents ages birth through 21.
AAP acknowledges that cannabinoid administration of marijuana is an option for children suffering from life-limiting conditions or severely debilitating conditions. Nationwide Children’s Hospital has no doctors certified to recommend medical marijuana. Nationwide Children’s was part of a multidisciplinary team that created a policy for medical marijuana Louisiana. If your child is admitted to Nationwide Children’s and uses medical marijuana, please talk with your doctor about continuing use during hospitalization.