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Prescribing marijuana to kids
Debate is raging over the use of medicinal marijuana to treat childhood ADHD and autism
Is medical marijuana for kids a prescription for abuse?
Is medical marijuana for kids a prescription for abuse?
(Corbis/Gerd Ludwig)
T

he battle over medical marijuana has a new focus: children. After some parents confessed to feeding kids as young as 9 pot-infused cookies as a last resort to help them cope with autism, The New York Times reported that California clinics have been prescribing pot to patients as young as 14 to treat ADHD symptoms. Proponents of cannabis for kids say it can also help treat cancer and AIDS symptoms. Opponents? “How many ways can one say ‘one of the worst ideas of all time?’” asks UC Berkeley psychologist Stephen Hinshaw. Is there ever a valid reason to prescribe pot for kids? (Watch one family’s success treating autism with marijuana.)

This takes a defensible idea too far: Doctors should be given leeway to treat their patients as they see best, says Nathaniel French in the Southern Methodist University Daily Campus, including—where legal—with medical marijuana. “But there are limits to that liberality,” and giving pot to minors crosses the line. “We do not let children smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol; why should we let them take a mind-altering drug”?
“California takes medical marijuana too far”

Marijuana is safer than Ritalin: Given that we already prescribe kids “stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall,” whose side effects—including sudden death—are much worse than marijuana’s, says a spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project in Opposing Views, the “infrequent” instances in which marijuana is prescribed to minors shouldn’t shock anyone; science and anecdotal evidence suggest it does help with childhood ADHD and autism. We need less outrage and more studies.
“The debate over marijuana treatment for ADHD, autistic kids”

Welcome to the slippery slope of 'medical anarchy':
“Marijuana has clear medical uses,” says Wesley J. Smith in First Things. But if advocates “continue to act this irresponsibly,” they’ll just "blow up” their cause.
“Medical anarchy: Giving medical marijuana to teenagers”


Pot can work medically, but it can also blur formative years: I generally "trust the doctors who are carefully treating young patients” with marijuana, says Russ Belleville at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). That said, I personally don’t recommend “non-medical use” for kids under 18—not out of mental or physical health concerns but simply because teenage emotions “should be felt fully and unaltered.” The teenage years are "when your personality and character are formed."
“Using medical marijuana to treat ADHD in teenagers”

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SEE THE WEEK'S LATEST COVERAGE OF THE MARIJUANA DEBATE:
Does America really need 'marijuana cafes'?
Obama's medical marijuana truce
Marijuana as medicine

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