Health Canada, the department in charge of national public health in Canada, stated the government is in the process of updating available information on cannabis. Their publication intends to clarify the conditions under which cannabis may be prescribed to children, although it is important to bear in mind that it is still a drug.
It is important that pertinent information be available to the public as soon as possible. A recent survey by the Canadian Pediatric Surveillance Program reported that almost 40 percent of people surveyed did not know that cannabis could be prescribed to children. Half the pediatricians surveyed reported treating patients who use medical cannabis (be it that the youth use it legally or without authorization), albeit the numbers treated were minuscule: 5 patients or less per pediatrician. It is important to note, however, that only a third of Canadian pediatricians responded to the survey.
What diseases suffered by children could require the use of cannabis? For starters, very aggressive types of epilepsy. In fact, patients have reported that the drug has reduced extreme cases hundreds of seizures to much fewer. In one extreme case, from 400 seizures a day to 50. In another, a child suffering up to 30 seizures a day saw these reduced to none after trying cannabis-based medication (“Keeping Medical Cannabis from Children is Callous and Foolish”, The Guardian, 19 February 2018).
The suffering caused by these seizures takes both a physical toll, as well as emotional, as it is known that such abundant seizures can kill. Moreover, according to The Guardian’s report, cannabis-based meds are safer than taking stronger and more addictive drugs such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines, which are psychoactive drugs. Other conditions that have also been feasibly treated with cannabidiol meds include Autism, tuberous sclerosis, and tumors.
The trend is gaining greater validity in the medical field, as different health institutes engage in research in the benefits, side effects and risks to children from medical cannabis use. One of these is Children’s Hospital Colorado, an institution spearheading research in medical cannabis for a variety of pediatric conditions, such as the effects of medical cannabis for central nervous system tumors, and it is doing so in conjunction with the U.S. Federal Government. This is a positive sign, and hopefully an indicator that the Federal Government is gradually moving towards a more open position towards allowing the use of medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis, then, is prescribed to children for an array of complex diseases that have very few alternative treatment possibilities. Because the information available is confusing and some of it even conflicting, the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia developed a guide for parents, to help them assess the risks and benefits of cannabis use. The guide can be accessed by clicking here.
About the Author:
Trudy Mercadal, Ph.D
New Orleans born with a Latina background, I am a writer, social historian & cultural studies researcher with a doctorate in Comparative Studies. My focus on community and popular culture. Main interests are the ways in which people express identity through arts—such as music, graffiti, and magazines—and their consuming practices, that is, the what (and how) they buy, ingest, eat, and wear. In my personal life, I am a dedicated urban mini-farmer and, also, a certified cheese maker who makes a truly kick-ass grilled cheese sandwich.