In the recent Health and Wellness issue of the AJT, there were articles about medical marijuana, claiming it is beneficial for a wide variety of medical conditions. While there may be a limited amount of scientific study to support the benefits in adults, there is no research demonstrating safety and effectiveness in children other than recent approval of a marijuana component for treatment of seizures in children with specific, rare seizure syndromes. Unfortunately, current Georgia law allows parents to give their children CBD [cannabidiol] oil, a component of marijuana, for a variety of conditions, including autism.
To clarify, pediatricians do not prescribe CBD oil. They do not tell parents how much to give to their child nor how to measure effectiveness or safety. The sole role for the pediatrician is to certify that the child has one of the diagnoses that permits the parents to legally possess CBD oil. Parents cannot legally purchase CBD oil in Georgia, and they cannot purchase it elsewhere and legally bring it into the state.
More importantly, there have been no clinical studies on CBD oil to guide dosing.
There is no research to guide parents in evaluating if CBD oil is helping their child and monitoring for side effects. There have been no studies that have evaluated the safety of giving CBD oil along with other medications typically used to treat these qualifying conditions. Since there is no oversight or quality control in the production of CBD oil, parents do not know if the medication they are giving their child actually contains the amount of CBD claimed on the label or if there are other unidentified active ingredients. In short, Georgia law allows parents to experiment on their children in an uncontrolled, unregulated and unmonitored manner.
The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the use of medical marijuana in children outside of the FDA approval process. As a pediatrician, I support that position and encourage parents to delay giving their child medical marijuana until there is a scientific study to answer these questions about dosing, safety and effectiveness.
Dr. Robert Wiskind, Atlanta
The article on medical marijuana in last week’s AJT should best be labeled as advertisement. Just like the snake oil salesmen of the 19th century, marijuana is offered as the panacea for everything from Alzheimer’s disease to static cling. While snake oil rarely did harm, the situation is different for marijuana.
Thirty years ago, physicians were advised that people could not get addicted to opiates if used for real pain. This philosophy, not backed by research, but backed by manufacturers of opiates, caused the current opiate epidemic, which has hit the Atlanta community hard. Of interest, Atlanta is known for the heroin triangle in its affluent northern suburbs, and many of the students who died of opiate overdoses started on marijuana.
Second, the marijuana available today is not your parent’s marijuana. It is up to 20 percent THC [tetrahydrocannabinol], as opposed to the 3 to 5 percent THC of marijuana of the 20th century. Even the most passionate advocate of marijuana notes that marijuana can exacerbate anxiety and bring on schizophrenia in teenagers who may have a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia.
There are very few safeguards to make sure that medical marijuana is kept out of reach of children, and medical marijuana is often the initial source of marijuana for teenagers. Even magazines such as High Times have noted an increase in daily marijuana use, and reputable studies have shown that exposure to marijuana in teenage years results in permanent IQ loss.
While forces with economic interests in medical and recreational marijuana continue to push their drugs for profit, the American public should be aware that they are the subjects of a large study that they have not consented to, just like the opiate experiment of the 1980s. As it is said in Latin, “caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware.
Herbert Kaine, Berkeley, Calif.