Parents treating children with medical marijuana cited in mainstream media

While covering stories for NORML’s Daily Audio Stash, I’ve noticed a trend lately in stories involving parents treating childhood mental health conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism.

(ABC’s Good Morning America, click link for video) Given the many challenges involved in raising an autistic child, parents are willing to try a variety of potential remedies, many of which are controversial and unproven.
[Meiko] Hester-Perez made her decision to try giving her 10-year-old son, Joey Perez, medical marijuana after his weight had become dangerously low due to his unwillingness to eat. She said that at the time she began the approach, he weighed only 46 pounds.
But just hours after she gave him one of the pot-infused brownies, she said she could see a change — both in his appetite and demeanor.
She added that her son used to take a cocktail of medications, three times every day, for his condition. He now takes only three, and he has a marijuana brownie once every two or three days.
“I saved my son’s life, and marijuana saved my son’s life…” said Hester-Perez.

(New York Times) Several Bay Area doctors who recommend medical marijuana for their patients said in recent interviews that their client base had expanded to include teenagers with psychiatric conditions including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
…[Medical m]arijuana advocates maintain that it is also safer than methylphenidate (Ritalin), the stimulant prescription drug most often used to treat A.D.H.D. That drug has documented potential side effects including insomnia, depression, facial tics and stunted growth.
In Berkeley, Dr. Frank Lucido said he was questioned by the medical board but ultimately not disciplined after he authorized marijuana for a 16-year-old boy with A.D.H.D. who had tried Ritalin unsuccessfully and was racking up a record of minor arrests.
Within a year of the new treatment, he said, the boy was getting better grades and was even elected president of his special-education class. “He was telling his mother: ‘My brain works. I can think,’ ” Dr. Lucido said.

(DoubleX.com) My son J has autism. He’s also had two serious surgeries for a spinal cord tumor and has an inflammatory bowel condition, all of which may be causing him pain, if he could tell us.
[S]ince we started him on his “special tea,” J’s little face, which is sometimes a mask of pain, has softened. He smiles more.
Pre-pot, J. ate things that weren’t food. There’s a name for this: pica. … His pica become so uncontrollable we couldn’t let him sleep with a pajama top (it would be gone by morning) or a pillow (ditto the case and the stuffing)…
Almost immediately after we started the cannabis, the pica stopped. Just stopped. J. now sleeps with his organic wool-and-cotton, hypoallergenic, temptingly chewable comforter.
Next, we started seeing changes in J.’s school reports. … At one parent meeting in August (J. is on an extended school year), his teacher excitedly presented his June-July “aggression” chart. An aggression is defined as any attempt or instance of hitting, kicking, biting, or pinching another person. For the past year, he’d consistently had 30 to 50 aggressions in a school day, with a one-time high of 300. The charts for June through July, by contrast, showed he was actually having days—sometimes one after another—with zero aggressions.

The anecdotal evidence keeps showing some remarkable results for some young patients in treating the symptoms of these mental health disorders.  However, it is important to note that it is, at this stage, just anecdotal evidence.  There is a paucity of studies researching the use of cannabis for these disorders in children and teens, owing in large part to the government’s placement of cannabis on Schedule I.  The only research generally allowed on cannabis in America is to show the dangers of its use, not its medical benefits.
At NORML, we are adamant about the ending of marijuana prohibition for all adults.  While we may quibble about the definition of “adult” being age 18 or age 21, we are definitely in agreement that under age 18, cannabis use should be limited strictly to medical cases with doctor’s supervision.  Cannabis is certainly not a harmless substance — no physically and mind-altering substance is — and there is some research data available showing potential detrimental mental health effects among young chronic cannabis users.
That said, medical use of cannabis for minors is still a thorny subject, even here at NORML.  We are reminded of our advisory board member, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, who monitored his pre-teen son’s successful use of cannabis during leukemia treatments.  Certainly youth medical marijuana use in that scenario – a child wasting away in pain dying from cancer – sets one end of the cost/benefit spectrum.  Clearly the benefits outweigh the risks.  But as we examine medical marijuana use for mental health disorders, especially where conventional drugs and behavioral therapies have already been proven successful, we reach the other end of the spectrum where the decisions are more difficult.
One thing on which we can all agree is that there needs to be much more medical research into this issue.  We encourage Congress and the President to take the advice of the AMA from two weeks ago which urged that “the Schedule I status of marijuana be reviewed with the goal of facilitating clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.”
Another point of agreement: arresting, fining, and imprisoning parents and doctors who are agonizing over health care decisions involving cannabis therapies for their children is unnecessary and cruel.

0 thoughts

  1. With our current political leader Mr.”Change, Obama” and his more of the same drug Czar Mclellan, I’m sorry to have made the mistake of voting for these idiots.
    It’s nice to know that they are here to help………,themselves to some more of that good old taxpayer drug war money and after all, who cares about the peasants or their stupid kids.
    Obama: We won’t have to lie to them again for another three years, pass me that joint Mclellan, this adhd is kicking my ass.

  2. Have you ever heard of ” Marijuana Anonymous ” ? D.A.T. came up with this idea to make people think that Marijuana is addictive . Another classic example of what D.A.T. is doing to deceive & lie to you the people .It’s all lies and bullcrap poop balogna .

  3. AD/HD maybe one of the best behavioral treatment remedy. Having worked in an OP psychiatric setting I have seen thousands of youth who were considered treatment failures to a multitude of medications with no FDA approval for minors. Many were of the atypical antipsychotic medication classes. Psychiatry is always an experiment. If therapeutic standards can be met, ingesting, vaporizing, drinking a medication that is senior to most civilizations! Current laws adding a stimulant effect on teen users. Teens get jacked up on risk! marijuana makes criminal of a substantial population of HS and college students! Remember Racheal Hoffman! (added by Mobile using Mippin)

  4. This one hits home for me. I was Diagnosed with ADHD, Depression, ODD, Mild OCD, and Bipolar Disorder at the age of 5. for years they had me on almost any drug available to try to treat it. Adderal(Clinical Speed), Zoloft, Serequil, Abilify, Trileptol, Ritalin, just to name a few, at age twelve I would take 3 tabs of adderal, 1 abilify, 2 serequil, 1 zoloft, and 2 trileptol in the morning and again in the afternoon. I used to go days without sleeping. Often contemplated suicide on the hourly basis(even attempting it a few times.) My brain would be in such a haze that I would often just sit in the corner and do nothing but stare at the blackboard until the bus came. I would have Violent outburst to the slightest stimuli. Even going so far as to split one kid’s head open for calling me a teachers pet. Those drugs took every semblance of control I had over my actions. When I was fourteen I tried Marijuana for the first time to see what it was like. Two weeks later I was able quit all of my medications with no adverse affects minus the withdrawls. I would smoke a bowl before school and a joint at recess (I was so lucky not to be caught!) and would be just like any other kid, happy, carefree, and I was able to focus on my work for the first time in my life. I graduated that year with a 3.9 gpa and have since been able to leave therepy. So to all the politicians who say that marijuana destroys lives let me be an example… It saved mine! In contrast About six months ago me and my buddies went out drinking and I got into a fight(with one of my teachers) which turned into a brawl and have been kicked out of school and am now on probation which means that they are going to test me once a month so I can’t smoke anymore and another condition is to put me back into therepy and back on all of those wonderful (and insanely expensive) drugs all over again. And now I’m worried about what will happen once the put me back on them.

  5. i was ddiagonosed with asbergurs syndrome my whole life had beeen a complete disaster more meds then you can imagined all had no positie effedxt what so evr often contemplated killing myself becuase of my constant axiety eventualy i tried pot 7th grade fixed everything but of course there was legality issue so my parents seeing the improvement decided to take eme to get medicaql marijuana so we saw one doctor and got one reccomendation costed 150 dollers for evaulation then i find out because i am only fiteen i need a secod one complete utter BS my parents not being able to afford a second one put me back on my regular meds making me have constant moodwings getting inot fights likeveryday this is complete utter bs and now im back to being completeley miserable and hateing my life.

  6. i must agree with medical use becuase i am 25 years old and been through a lot. Such as my father rapping me, beating the crap out of me, drugging me up on all types of drugs, there is a lot more that happen to me from my parents and while being in foster care from 6 to 19. I have several anger and depression issues. Medications do not work on me. Iv been on ritalen, depocoat, clondine, and several medications none helped. When i smoke marijuana i hav no agression, no depression, and i can handle life issues a lot better. It helps with my anxiety. Marijuana is very helpful and should be legal for medical use in every state. There r so many good things marijuana can do to help people live a normal life (added by Mobile using Mippin)

  7. Honestly for those of you who don’t have a child or family member that is on regular medication that doesn’t seem to help them, don’t criticize people who will try anything to help their children. I have two autistic brothers and EVERY SINGLE DAY my 16 year old brother spirals out of control and now that he has even surpassed my dads size, sometimes he can’t be controlled. We have over 30 holes in the walls of our house, we can’t go on vacations, and he attacks my 6 year old little sister on a regular basis. My parents have been up every alley and nothing has had lasting effects. They are now considering medical marijuana. If it doesn’t work, the last resort is that my dad moves out and raises my brother by himself so he baby hurt anyone. The comments about how bad some parents are for considering this are unnecessary! You have NO IDEA what its like.

  8. I am feeling a lot of sadness for the young people sharing these stories. They find the relief of mmj after years of suffering but are not able to have access to it. i urge you to do whatever it takes to get the medicine that works for you(mmj) and give up the harmful stuff when you do. dont give up!!! Keep telling others what you need and what works best for you. We need to change the laws!!

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