Is Medical Marijuana Safe For Children and Adolescents?

WIKI-Cannabis-OilKent Mao, Contributor
Waking Times 

Success stories of medical marijuana use in children range from the treatment of disorders that affect classroom performance such as autism and ADHD to life-threatening conditions such as epilepsy and cancer. But while a growing number of doctors are beginning to consider medical marijuana as a legitimate form of clinical therapy, the vast majority remain wary of its impact in younger patients.

The underlying factor in the medical community’s resistance to cannabis seems to be the overall lack of clinical research that has been conducted so far, especially in children and adolescents. On the other hand, the absence of research happens to be only a recent phenomena, as a review of the medical literature reveals numerous reports and studies on the safety of marijuana commissioned over the past many decades.

What these studies demonstrate appears to echo what marijuana advocates have been saying for decades: Cannabis is an overwhelmingly harmless substance.

Safety Profile of Marijuana

Perhaps the earliest study to investigate the safety profile of marijuana comes from the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission — a research team ordered by the British government in 1893 to study the effects of ever-prevalent cannabis use in India. The Commission completed their report in 1894 — a lengthy 3,281 page document which demonstrated a clear lack of observable drawbacks associated with marijuana use.

“In regard to the physical effects, the Commission have come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs is practically attended by no evil results at all… It has been the most striking feature in this inquiry to find how little the effects of hemp drugs have obtruded themselves on observation.”

Likewise, a report published by the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse in 1972 could find no fault with the use of cannabis, despite governmental pressure to prove otherwise.

“Marijuana has been used by man around the world for many centuries. Scientifically, more is known about marijuana’s effects than many other botanical substances used by man… Almost all chronic, heavy hashish smokers are indistinguishable from their peers in social behaviour, work performance, mental status and overall life style.”

Risks For Children/Teens

Despite significant evidence of marijuana’s lack of side effects, children and adolescents are treated with particular caution when it comes to any form of medical therapy, because of the developmental vulnerability that individuals face during their formative years.

In fact, one of the largest concerns of doctors and parents alike are the effects of drugs on a child’s developing brain. And while evidence of marijuana’s impact on neural development remains conflicted, some studies have managed to link early marijuana use with deficits in brain volume and intelligence (1).

Still, it’s important to note the lack of census among the medical community on these findings, as large-scale clinical trials have never been conducted. Furthermore, cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, such as Marinol, have already been approved by the FDA for childhood use (2). Marinol is a pure THC pill that shares a nearly identical side effect profile as medical marijuana (3).

However, the fact remains that the safety of marijuana use in children and adolescents remains a largely unknown variable, which also happens to be the most common reason given by doctors when explaining their lack of support for medical marijuana (4).

But while this is true for cannabis, it is also true for many other cancer medications and anti-psychotics that are regularly prescribed to children. As such, a minority of health practitioners have already begun to voice their support for the use of medical marijuana, even in child and adolescent patients.

Support For Medical Marijuana

Although still a subject of much debate, medical marijuana has become an increasingly popular form of treatment among the North American population — both for adults and children. In fact, a number of paediatricians, including Dr. Claudia Jensen, have started to recommend medical marijuana as an alternative treatment for conditions that have traditionally been dominated by the pharmaceutical industry such as ADHD (5).

In an interview with MSNBC, Dr. Jensen explained how medical marijuana could be used effectively as a treatment for ADHD without the mind-numbing side effects that are typically associated with cannabis use.

“They don’t have to get stoned — it’s dose-related. But they do get the benefit of being able to focus, pay attention, not be impulsive, not be angry, be peaceful and relaxed and pay attention in school, which helps them get better grades.”

Likewise, Harvard-trained psychiatrist Dr. Lester Grinspoon voiced his support for using medical marijuana to control childhood ADHD in a recent interview with Sphere (6).

“I’d have no hesitation giving a youngster with ADHD a trial of oral marijuana. For some kids, it appears to be more effective than traditional treatments. And marijuana certainly has fewer potential dangers than Ritalin.”

Indeed, while concerns continue to be expressed over the use of medical marijuana in society’s most vulnerable of patients, evidence of its relative safety seems more than obvious to those with an open mind towards non-traditional therapies.

As Dr. Grinspoon states, medical marijuana could very well be a safer treatment option for children with ADHD and, more than likely, many other conditions that afflict the younger generation of patients.

About the Author

Kent Mao is a contributor to Waking Times and the editor of, an online resource for medical marijuana facts, information and research. actively engages in the online discussion of marijuana research and policy. You can learn more by visiting Kent is also a contributor to Waking Times.



Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of WakingTimes or its staff.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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  • When anti-cannabis proponents cannot viably attack adult use of cannabis, they go after the kids next. Well smartbutt, anyone can buy this CBD legally (Cannabidiol) MINUS the THC here and now: (legal in each state)

    So what are you going to bitch about now? The danger of family pets consuming cannabis? Then they will go after the goldfish.

  • Anonymous

    When anti-cannabis proponents cannot viably attack adult use of cannabis, they go after the kids next. Well smartbutt, anyone can buy this CBD legally (Cannabidiol) MINUS the THC here and now: (legal in each state)

    So what are you going to bitch about now? The danger of family pets consuming cannabis? Then they will go after the goldfish.

  • dr brown

    yes, today, i see the ‘mainstream’ media attempting a swear on cannabis saying more ‘kids’ being ‘poisoned’ by pot.
    what a load of trash…as pot-cannabis-is non-toxic; dea themselves have stated you’d need to eat 15 pounds in one sitting to ‘die’ from it; try eating 15 pounds of anything!
    anything to keep a dollar from going good if you ask me…
    the corporations control the media and your mind if you let them.
    don’t let them fool You anymore.
    i eat cannabis regularly for ankylosing spodylitis and other inflammatory conditions and it works great.
    remember: all diseases are caused by inflammation of some sort
    dr brown is a pioneer for the enlightenment of the masses.

    • Dr Brown …your mama didn’t raise no fool…academics will always live in Bizarro World…ie: mirror reversion

  • * Don’t cha just luv the cheap thrill ‘Sensational’ tabloid headline!

    • Really, Alex? It’s a simple question and a thoughtful answer.

      How about “Will Medical Weed Turn Your Child Into A Drug Addicted Zombie?” 😉

      • * must of pressed a nerve eh!….maybe coconut oil will help you pull your head out from where the sun don’t shine.

        • * So who did you have to blow to be a gatekeeper here anyway??? hahahahahahaha!

  • signalfire6

    What’s that POS you have in the photograph? Because it’s not like any marijuana I have ever seen.

    Before you worry about whether pot is unsafe, how’s about describing the effect of chemo, radiation, fluoride and GMO crops on kids? Not to mention years of being bored out of their minds listening to government propaganda and being fed crap at lunchtime?

  • DSM-5-is-a-False-Science

    It’s not “POT” it’s medical cannabis, it’s not “POT SHOP” it’s medical cannabis dispensary.

    It’s not “Marijuana” it’s the Latin Genus / Species

    Cannabis Sativa
    Cannabis Indica

    Psychiatry is a false science, the DSM-5 is false science. ADHD is a made up disease from the figment of the psychiatrist’s pocketbook.

    Epilepsy on the other hand is another story altogether.

    MSNBC is propaganda and lies. – Just look at MSNBC’s Maddow saying there is no Geo-Engineering, no Weather Modification, while the documents come straight from the USAF that it IS REAL and HAPPENING.

    Don’t even get me started with MARINOL (big pharma again)

    And just who is trying to PATENT cannabis right now? hmmm?

  • Frank

    Just lost all respect for Grinspoon. You don’t need to treat a concocted phony psychiatric condition with pot. It would be good for a lot of real health problems,but adhd is a condition invented so shrinks can sell dope!

    • Anonymous

      You have no idea … One day you will have a sickness & will be mis understood

    • Anonymous

      You are so blinded … Yes I have it

  • Avi

    Marijuana would be Much better than any pharma Drug to help distressed children to cope with the problems they get in our ‘post modern’ world.
    Nonetheless, that is still not adressing the root of the many problems they are confronted with and going after the causes ought to be the true direction to solve the problems.
    Strenghtening the family ties, lowering the competition for success (?!), moving back to a more natural orientated life, banishing most of TV/video addiction …
    And, another point is that Marijuana has an effect on the subconscious in the way that it suppresses dreams and this is problematic because a big part in development just occur with dreams and the life of the subconscious. I don’t think this aspect has ever been studied (???) and it is in my view the first and most profound impact of Marijuana on the brain.
    There is no addictiveness though on the body contrary to all drugs from alcohol and nicotin to Prozac, Ritalin …
    There has been a good point made quite recently by Dave Hodges on the subject of drugs applied to children:
    My own view is here:
    Best !!

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