Pubdate: Sun, 06 Dec 2009
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Times, LLC.
Author: Armstrong Williams
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Youth)


I was horrified to read recently that it is  increasingly common in
California to treat children  diagnosed with Attention - Deficit
Hyperactivity  Disorder (ADHD) with marijuana. California voters
passed a law allowing doctors to recommend medical  marijuana to their
patients, including those under the  age of 18. The law allows doctors
to recommend  marijuana "for any ... illness for which marijuana
provides relief." Under that broad umbrella, doctors  are pushing pot
to treat all kinds of maladies,  including ADHD.

Truly, this is horrifying. ADHD is described as a  neurological
disorder that prevents children from  focusing on a specific task. In
essence, people with  ADHD have difficulty with self-regulation and
self-motivation, owing to problems with  distractibility, organization
and prioritization.

Notably, these are the same functions that are most  impaired by
marijuana use. Get it? Pot actually  exacerbates the problems with
attention, memory and  concentration that you want a treatment for
ADHD to  alleviate. That's why Stephen Hinshaw, psychology  department
chairman at the University of California at  Berkeley, called
prescribing marijuana to treat ADHD  "one of the worst ideas of all

At the very least, using marijuana to treat adolescents  with ADHD is
wildly irresponsible. First of all, the  FDA has never conducted an
approval process on  marijuana, and few institutions are willing to
fund  studies to show the effects of using marijuana as a  remedy for
ADHD. Consequently, there are no reliable  studies to show how the
drug may affect ADHD. All the  so-called "evidence" in support of
prescribing  marijuana to children is anecdotal, based completely on
self-selecting self-reports. There is no reliable  scientific basis
for drugging these children into  complacency. Nonetheless, doctors,
school counselors  and misinformed parents are increasingly pushing
marijuana to kids.

Even the validity of the ADHD diagnosis is  questionable. It is worth
noting that there exists no  scientific method for diagnosing this
ailment. Simply,  if a child is observed to be acting bored,
distracted  and/or boisterous in the classroom, he is often thought
to be suffering from ADHD. Notably, these are the same  symptoms of
another condition that afflicts millions of  children -- childhood.

Currently, every child in public school is required to  undergo
testing for attention-deficit disorder. The  most recent analysis from
the Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention reports that 1.6
million  elementary-school children were diagnosed with ADHD  between
1997 and 1998. By drugging these children into  complacency, a
consortium of psychiatrists and  marijuana dispensaries are making
money off children  acting like children. They try to rationalize this
  child-drugging industry by arguing that marijuana is  harmless and
non-addictive. Some baby-boomer parents go  along, saying to
themselves, "It's only marijuana."

What they don't realize is that marijuana use during  childhood and
the early-teen years produces  significantly different effects than
marijuana use  later in life. The behaviors exhibited by introducing
tetrahydrocannabinol -- the active ingredient in  marijuana -- to the
brain are similar to those  demonstrated by alcohol consumption.
Obvious side  effects include mental clouding and sluggishness. There
is now conclusive evidence that chronic marijuana use  during
adolescence tends to retard the users'  emotional, academic and
vocational development. This,  in turn, can lead to poor school/work
performance, poor  social relationships and a general feeling of low
self-esteem. Obviously, if the drug is being  prescribed, it is being
used chronically. People who  use marijuana at a young age are also at
significantly  higher risk for the development of a mental disorder.
Get it? Marijuana use at a young age can cause adverse  effects that
plague the user for the rest of ! their  lives.

Moreover, there are serious physical side effects that  every
marijuana user should be aware of. First of all,  marijuana is
physically addictive. As the potency of  the drug continues to get
more powerful, admission to  rehabilitation facilities has doubled for
marijuana  addiction. Each year, 100,000 teens are treated for
marijuana dependence. In addition, marijuana smoke  contains three to
five times the tar and carbon  monoxide that tobacco smoke does,
placing users at  increased risk for lung cancer and other respiratory

Amazingly, psychiatrists, pot dispensaries and  misinformed parents
continue to push the stuff to kids.  Instead of doping our children
when they act, you know,  childlike, maybe we should consider a return
to  parenting. My father was confronted with several  boisterous
children. His solution? A few stern words  and the loud snap of a
belt. Believe me, we paid  attention.

Of course, nowadays parents are made to feel guilty for  disciplining
their children. So we opt instead to  medicate. Medicate the child
whose eyes glaze during  science class. Medicate the child who
displays a little  too much childlike exuberance. Medicate him.
Medicate  her. Medicate everyone.

Very simply, children simply do not have the maturity  and knowledge
to make major decisions regarding their  health. The state has a
compelling interest to step in  and shield minors from harmful and
addictive  substances. It is imperative that our state legislators
invoke this power and legally prevent psychiatrists  from prescribing
pot to children.

While they're at it, lawmakers also need to ensure that  children
diagnosed with ADHD receive thorough medical  examinations to rule out
other possible causes of the  symptoms associated with the disorder.
Equally  important is that parents receive full disclosure of  the
dangerous side effects of using marijuana during a  child's peak
emotional, social and vocational learning  years. Very simply, our
youth should not be drugged  into complacency. This is an abomination. 
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