When your child has a health condition, you want to pursue every option available to improve your child’s quality of life. Many parents are using medical marijuana to manage their child’s symptoms and medication side effects from conditions such as autism, epilepsy, ADD, and ADHD. If you are considering medical marijuana for your child, it is critical to consult with an understanding, experienced medical cannabis physician who understands the needs of children and teens. A professional medical marijuana practice can guide you through obtaining a Florida medical cannabis card and being registered as a caregiver.
Medical marijuana is a viable option for many children. As you consider whether to move forward with medical cannabis treatment for your child, it’s important to know what medical marijuana is, how it works, what conditions it can treat, and how to best coordinate care.
Understanding Medical Marijuana Options for Children and Teens
Many parents are understandably concerned about medical marijuana treatment for children. Understanding the chemical make-up of medical cannabis and how it is delivered to children can help alleviate those concerns. Two questions we usually field:
What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is made up of numerous chemicals, but the two main compounds are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both CBD and THC have therapeutic properties, but THC can also have psychoactive side effects, resulting in a high. CBD does not have psychoactive side effects, which is why many parents choose high-CBD/low-THC blends for their children’s treatment. CBD also counteracts the psychoactive side effects of THC. An experienced medical marijuana physician such as Dr. Daniel P. Stein at Neurology of Cannabis can make specific recommendations based on your child’s needs and health history.
How is Medical Marijuana Delivered to Children and Teens?
Tinctures are a common choice for many parents. Also known as CBD oil, these liquids come with a dropper to simplify dosing. You may choose to directly administer a tincture under your child’s tongue or mix it with their food or a beverage to cover the taste.
Medical Marijuana Symptom Relief for Children and Teens
Formal medical marijuana research is somewhat limited in the United States due to cannabis being classified as a Schedule I drug on a federal level. There is some preclinical research and formal research being done here and overseas, though, regarding medical marijuana’s efficacy in treating conditions such as epilepsy, autism, and ADD/ADHD.
When the Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, the first prescription medication derived from cannabis, it confirmed what many parents already knew: that CBD helped provide symptom relief for children with specific forms of epilepsy. Given the side effects that can accompany many seizure medications, such as anemia, liver failure, allergic reactions, and psychological side effects, many parents are using CBD either as an alternative to other medications or in conjunction with other medications. CBD has been particularly helpful to children who have been resistant to other seizure medications.
Very little research has been done regarding autism spectrum disorder and medical marijuana. Some promising research is being done in Israel, though, under the direction of Dr. Adi Aran, which shows improved behavior in autistic children and teens. His preliminary research was on 60 children who were treated with medical cannabis high in CBD and low in THC. The results of this preliminary research showed improvement in:
- Disruptive Behaviors
They have launched a larger, double-blind study to further study treating autism with CBD. Many families report that CBD has helped improve the quality of life for children with autism, especially in conjunction with other therapies such as behavior modification.
Although more research needs to be done, there is promising initial research that shows cannabis may help alleviate ADD and ADHD symptoms in children and adults. Medical marijuana impacts dopamine levels in the brain, which may be the reason behind ADD and ADHD. Traditional treatment medications for ADD and ADHD are stimulants, which have unpleasant potential side effects such as nervousness, insomnia, and loss of appetite.
CBD is known for its calming effect, which may help children and teens with ADD and ADHD easily focus on the tasks they undertake.
Obtaining Medical Marijuana for Children in Florida
If you want to pursue a medical marijuana treatment plan for your child, you will need to obtain a Florida medical cannabis card. The first step in getting a card is visiting a medical practice that specializes in medical cannabis, such as Neurology of Cannabis. You will need to get copies of your child’s medical records before your appointment so they can be reviewed by your medical marijuana doctor. The steps for getting a medical marijuana card are:
- Visiting a qualified ordering physician. This is a physician who has been approved by the state to make medical marijuana recommendations. An experienced doctor such as Dr. Stein will review your child’s medical records and talk with you and your child, and then make a treatment recommendation.
- Be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry. As a parent, you will be entered as a caregiver. You will then receive an email to complete your profile and a separate email with your temporary password.
- Complete your application. Log into the registry and add or correct any required information. As a caregiver, you will need to upload proof of representation that shows you are the parent or legal guardian of your child. You will also need to pay a $75 application fee.
It typically takes about five business days for applications to be processed. Once your application is approved and you receive your card, you can visit a licensed medical marijuana treatment center to obtain medical cannabis for your child, per your doctor’s recommendations.
Neurology of Cannabis: A Trusted Medical Marijuana Resource for Parents
At Neurology of Cannabis, we provide compassionate, professional, and friendly care to patients of all ages. Dr. Stein has extensive training in neurology and will work closely with you and your child to develop a treatment plan that improves your child’s quality of life.
Our friendly staff will answer any questions you have along the way. Contact us today to find out more about getting started with medical marijuana.