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It’s Time To Focus On Children Who Need Medical Cannabis

November 16th, 2018 Photo/istock/keeweeboy

By Roger Malespin

In New Mexico, there is currently a battle being waged. Fronted by two mothers, Lindsey Sledge and Tisha Brick, whose children had to be taken off school grounds to take their medical marijuana, they are pushing for state legislators to change laws to allow their children and others to be allowed to take them on grounds. The Albuquerque Public School system are the gatekeepers of this, and the mothers were told by them that their only option is to get the law changed. That’s what they’re trying to do, and they’re far from the only ones.

This case is a microcosm for a problem that is happening across the country but gets much less press than other cannabis stories. You see, even if a state allows medical marijuana, school districts often have the power to decide on just about all matters that happen on their grounds. Medical cannabis is effective, but is still sadly beholden to outdated attitudes, and local officials are not immune to this either.

 It’s important to remember that medical marijuana and the science behind its effectiveness is still very new; we are living through a transitional period of understanding and applying that science in life today. Even physicians are still reluctant to recommend it to children in many cases.

“This reluctance appears to be driven by the potential for side effects, scant high-quality scientific data, unclear dosage guidelines and a lack of regulatory oversight by the FDA, unlike other therapeutic and supportive care drugs.” wrote Prasanna Ananth, MD, MPH, a pediatric oncologist/hematologist at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

 There have been many credible studies that show habitual marijuana use with impaired cognitive development in teens, as well as developing dependence and poor performances in school. However, these are exclusively limited to smoking marijuana not CBD, which does not induce a high. The crux of the matter is that long term studies of the effects of CBD do not yet exist, so it seems many are taking a better safe than sorry approach with it.

That approach is not going to help the children of Sledge and Brick, who suffer from severe epilepsy and have tried every traditional prescription available. These medicines did not help the children and the side effects can even be fatal. CBD is the only thing that has worked. Children suffering from severe epilepsy across the country have shown to benefit greatly from CBD, allowing them to function like normal kids. Most of the parents of these children have said the seizures stopped completely once on CBD.

 A research study sent to 654 doctors and nurses yielded mixed results. A third of respondents were “eligible to certify” for medical marijuana, which means they have gone through the formal certification process to be able to provide patients with access to medical marijuana. Only 8% of providers said they sometimes or frequently recommended medical marijuana to patients, but 92% would be willing to help children with cancer get medical marijuana and would approve of using it to treat children’s symptoms.

 The most telling takeaway from the study is that the doctors feel biggest obstacle to providing medical marijuana  is not having a standard for medical marijuana formulations, dosages or strength. A legal cannabis market would go a long way in helping this because it will strictly monitor all aspects of the plant from seed to sale. But the real solution to this are long term studies, which do not help the children in the short term.

In the meantime, parents like Sledge and Brick will continue to use the scientific and anecdotal evidence available to persuade their lawmakers and local officials to allow their kids to take CBD on school grounds. This issue is not reported on enough, but the entire cannabis community needs to be aware of it. Please, find out if there are any similar situations happening in your area and take action, even if it’s just lending your voice for support.