Posts Tagged ‘ marijuana ’

Medical Marijuana for Kids Prompts Debate

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The use of medical marijuana in children is becoming a hotly debated topic, with some parents expressing horror that the drug would be used on children, and others praising the possibilities that marijuana could help kids cope with disorders ranging from epilepsy to cancer and autism.  More on the issue from NBC News:

Eighteen states, plus Washington, D.C., allow use of medical marijuana. A number of them provide prescriptions to children, with parental supervision, to treat a host of ills, ranging from autism to cancer to seizures.

Critics, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, argue that the remedy hasn’t been clinically tested in kids and might have some long-term ramifications.

[10-year-old] Zaki [Jackson's] parents were surprised at first and a bit taken aback. “We are Christians,” Jackson said. “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.”

Jackson said the results were immediate and stunning. “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 said.

In fact, it’s been eight months since Zaki’s last seizure and he’s finally starting to do normal kid activities, like ride a swing.

Zaki’s pot is provided specifically for him by a team of brothers who legally grow medical marijuana. It has been bred to have low levels of TCH, but higher levels of another cannabinoid called cannabidiol, or CBD.

While both cannabinoids impact pain, nausea and seizures, CBD isn’t psychoactive, said Dr. Margaret Gedde of the Clinicians’ Institute for Cannabis Medicine. That means that kids using this type of marijuana won’t get high.

Cannabinoids work by hijacking normal brain circuitry.

In other words, the cannabinoids in pot are very similar to substances our own brains naturally make, called endocannabinoids. These substances serve to quiet excessive activity, whether it’s in the immune system, in the gut or in the nervous system, Gedde explained to NBCNews.com.

When cells become overactive, a switch is thrown and endocannabinoids are released. Once they lock on to receptors in the brain, “a message is sent to tell the cells to calm down,” she said. “It’s a balancing system and it’s what keeps seizures from happening in healthy brains. In these kids the system is overwhelmed. It needs a little extra help.”

That’s where the pot comes in. For Zaki, it’s delivered in a syrup that he takes each day, which contains an extract of purified cannabis oil that is high in CBD, Gedde said.

While the drug seems to be working miracles for Zaki, some doctors believe its safety in children needs to be tested in clinical trials.

“I worry that we just don’t know enough about it,” said Dr. Sharon Levy, of the Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. “I think they’re putting their child at risk of long-term consequences of marijuana use that we don’t fully understand.”

 

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Protect Kids from Parents’ Medical Marijuana, Study Advises

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Medical marijuana, which is legal in 18 states, can bring relief to the patient taking it, but it can also be a risk if it inadvertently falls into the hands of children.  The rise in medical marijuana prescriptions over the past few years has also increased the number of emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers when young children ingest marijuana-laced products, such as brownies, cookies, and candies.  The Boston Globe reports on the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics:

Marijuana-infused products have become popular for patients who are unable, or do not want, to smoke the drug.

“In our study, most exposures were due to ingestion of medical marijuana in a food product,” wrote the study authors.

Dr. George Sam Wan of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center and his colleagues compared the proportion of marijuana ingestions by young children who were brought to the emergency room before and after October 2009, when drug enforcement laws regarding medical marijuana use were relaxed.

The researchers found no record of children brought to the ER in a large Colorado children’s hospital for marijuana-related poisonings between January 2005 and September 30, 2009 — a span of 57 months.

By comparison, they found 14 cases involving marijuana ingestion between October 1, 2009, and December 31, 2011, a span of just 27 months.

Eight of the 14 cases involved medical marijuana, and all but one of those came from food products, the authors said. In all, eight of the patients had to be admitted to the hospital, with two of them ending up in intensive care. None died.

The ages of children studied ranged from 8 months to 12 years old. During those years, Colorado had no laws requiring medical marijuana to be sold in child-proof packaging.

Image: Child reaching for cookie, via Shutterstock

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Parents Hire Drug-Sniffing Dogs for Teens’ Rooms

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

A growing number of parents, worried that their children are doing drugs, are investing several hundred dollars in hiring drug-sniffing dogs to come to their homes. The Today Show reports:

“I was very worried that my daughter was hanging around with kids that were doing drugs,” one Houston mother said in a report that aired on TODAY on Monday. Ava, who didn’t want her last name used, hired a private company to bring Roxie, a white German shepherd who used to work for the military, into her Houston home to check for illegal drugs.

Ava was worried about what Roxie might find. “Oh, I was very nervous that she was going to find drugs in the garage,” she said.

The dog with the super-sensitive nose did indeed find marijuana in the garage, a discovery that was difficult for Ava and her daughter.

“She was upset that I invaded her privacy,” Ava said.

But it led to a conversation that Ava believes helped turn her daughter’s life around. The girl found a new group of friends and improved her grades.

“The reason why I did it is to keep her safe and off drugs,” Ava said.

Ava seemingly got the outcome she wanted. But using a drug-sniffing dog can make matters worse, said child psychologist Jeffrey Gardere, a TODAY contributor.

“Looking for the drugs with a dog, I think, is an overkill,” Gardere said on TODAY. “What it comes down to is having a relationship, and I don’t know if you can do that if you’re bringing in drug-sniffing dogs.”

Image: Drug-sniffing dog, via Shutterstock

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Medical Marijuana for 7-Year-Old Cancer Patient Raises Questions

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The story of Mykayla Comstock, a 7-year-old Oregon girl who is undergoing treatment for leukemia, is at the center of a national debate on what age is appropriate to offer medical marijuana as a way to ease the symptoms of cancer treatments. The Oregonian newspaper reports on Comstock’s situation, which is unique in that her parents are divorced and do not agree on the use of cannabis in capsule form:

The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program serves 52 children who have a qualifying medical condition, parental consent and a doctor’s approval. Like adults, most cite pain as a qualifying condition, though many list multiple health problems, including seizures, nausea and cancer.

Allowing adults to consume medical marijuana is gaining acceptance nationwide. But Mykayla’s story underscores the complex issues that arise when states empower parents to administer the controversial drug to children.

Oregon’s law, approved by voters 14 years ago, requires no monitoring of a child’s medical marijuana use by a pediatrician. The law instead invests authority in parents to decide the dosage, frequency and manner of a child’s marijuana consumption.

The state imposes no standards for quality, safety or potency in the production of marijuana.

Little is known about how the drug interacts with the developing body, leading pediatricians say. A recent international study found sustained cannabis use among teens can cause long-term damage to intellect, memory and attention.

Many doctors worry about introducing a child to marijuana when they say other drugs can treat pain and nausea more effectively.

Mykayla’s father, who is divorced from the girl’s mother, was so disturbed by his daughter’s marijuana use that he contacted child welfare officials, police and her oncologist. Jesse Comstock said his concerns were prompted by a visit with Mykayla in August.

“She was stoned out of her mind,” said Comstock, 26. “All she wanted to do was lay on the bed and play video games.”

But Mykayla’s mother and her boyfriend, Erin Purchase and Brandon Krenzler, see the drug as a harmless antidote to leukemia’s host of horrors. The couple, regular cannabis users raised in Pendleton, said Mykayla relies almost exclusively on pot to treat pain, nausea, vomiting, depression and sleep problems associated with her cancer treatment.

Mykayla, who favors a knit cupcake cap to cover her fuzz of strawberry-colored hair, said marijuana makes her feel better.

It helps me eat and sleep,” she said, nestled against her mother on a couch. “The chemotherapy makes you feel like you want to stay up all night long.”

Marijuana, she said, “makes me feel funny, happy.”

“She’s like she was before,” her mother said. “She’s a normal kid.”

Image: Marijuana capsules, via Shutterstock

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CDC: More Teens Smoke Pot Than Cigarettes

Friday, June 8th, 2012

A new survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that more American teenagers smoke marijuana than cigarettes.

Twenty-three percent of the high school students who were surveyed about a number of risky behaviors said they recently smoked marijuana, while 18 percent said they had smoked nicotine cigarettes.  According to MSNBC.com, some experts attribute the difference to the perception that marijuana is less dangerous than niccotine.

Image: Smoke, via Shutterstock.

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