In 2021, there were 4.4 million registered patients who used medical marijuana in the US. That number is projected to soar to 5.7 million by 2030 – or about 2% of America’s population.
While the vast majority of medical cannabis patients are adults, some are children and adolescents. If you have an underage patient, you may be wondering about the safety and what precautions need to be taken when using medical marijuana for treatment.
Read on and discover more in this parent’s guide to medical marijuana.
Intro to Pediatric Patients and Medical Marijuana
Pediatric medical marijuana use is a controversial topic, albeit scientifically proven to be effective and efficient in helping with serious conditions and long-term illnesses in both adults and children alike..
Medical marijuana can help treat the following in your child:
Researchers and scientists found that seizures from epilepsy or other health conditions can be successfully controlled with Cannabidiol or CBD – a compound found in cannabis.
In fact, the drug Epidiolex – a medicine that treats rare seizure disorders and contains CBD from hemp – has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hemp is any part of the cannabis sativa plant that has less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s mind-altering substance. Non-hemp plants contain more than 0.3% of THC.
If your child falls in the more severe range of the autism spectrum, CBD may have a great beneficial effect on helping them handle daily life when numerous stimuli compete for their attention. The CBD may help them stay calm, process their surroundings, and make interaction with their environment and those within it a bit easier.
Painful diseases or treatments such as chemotherapy brought on by cancer often drive parents to cannabis to help their child through it. Traditional pharmaceutical pain management options can cause serious side effects. But with cannabis, parents can go to sleep at night knowing their child is being relieved of their pain with a safer approach.
In the United States, MMJ patients use medical marijuana for the following ailments or disorders:
- Chronic/severe pain = 64%
- Muscle spasms = 13%
- Severe nausea = 6%
- Cancer = 6%
- Mental health related issues (such as PTSD) = 4%
- Seizures and epilepsy = 2%
- Glaucoma = 1%
- Other qualifying conditions = 4%
Other qualifying conditions include Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and wasting syndrome.
The Legality of Medical Marijuana Use for Children
Is it even legal for your child to use medical marijuana?
According to federal law, no – cannabis use is illegal for everyone. But at the state level, legality for any user depends on which state you’re in.
Forty-one states, including DC and Puerto Rico, have legalized medicinal cannabis use with medical marijuana programs. However, the states where cannabis use is still illegal include:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Many states have reciprocity laws for out-of-state medical cannabis patient registrations. According to Cannabis.net, “several legal states do entertain out-of-state patients. This is called the medical marijuana reciprocity law. Legally, reciprocity refers to a state recognizing another state’s law.”
There is a difference, however, between the possession legalities and the purchase legalities under the reciprocity laws for each state. This means some states may let you possess cannabis, purchase cannabis, both or neither, while within its boundaries.
At the time of this writing, the following states allow you to do both:
- DC and Puerto Rico
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
(Note: Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, and Utah allow you to possess cannabis within its perimeter, but not purchase it. If the state you’re looking for wasn’t listed, it either prohibits both possession and purchase, or it does not have reciprocity laws in place).
How to Know if Medical Cannabis is Right for Your Child
What do you need to do to find out if medical cannabis is right for your child?
- Consult with your child’s doctor or pediatrician.
- Educate yourself and ask questions. Learn, learn, learn!
Deciding if your child should take medical cannabis can be a tough, and often comprehensive choice to make. But with the right support and the most current informative data on hand, you’ll do what’s right for your child and his or her health.