Pubdate: Sat, 31 Dec 2016
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2016 The Washington Post Company
Author: David Kohn


Across the country, thousands of children use medical marijuana for
a range of ailments including intractable epilepsy, pain, anxiety and
symptoms of multiple sclerosis. As the number of pediatric medical
users grows, so do issues that confront parents, patients, doctors and
policymakers. There are no federal laws specifically covering
children's use of medical marijuana, and state laws on the subject are
a complex and sometimes contradictory patchwork.

Twenty-nine states and the District have made medical marijuana of all
kinds legal. Among those state is Maryland, which has not yet set up a
system for distribution.

Another 15 states, including Virginia, allow people to use cannabis
containing high levels of CBD and low levels of the psychoactive
component THC. In large part, these laws have come in response to
pressure from parents of children with severe epilepsy and other
illnesses that may be treated with CBD. However, none of these states
has a distribution system with licensed dispensaries. As a result,
parents are left to find cannabis through other sources, either buying
it in another state and bringing it home or buying it from a dealer --
both of which are illegal under federal law.

[A powerful new form of medical marijuana, without the high]

(Florida has CBD-only dispensaries, and it will be expanding to full
medical marijuana as the result of an amendment to the state
constitution that was approved by voters in November.)

Some states require that parents get permission from two doctors
before their children can receive the drug rather than the single
practitioner required for adults. Many states limit pediatric use to
high-CBD doses. Advocates say that this limits options for children
who may find relief with higher levels of THC. They also note that
states rarely limit children's access to medicines that can have
powerful psychoactive side effects, such as opioids and stimulants.

At the same time, many doctors are unwilling to prescribe medical
marijuana to children. "They tend to be very suspicious of it," says
Beth Collins, senior director of government affairs for Americans for
Safe Access, an advocacy group for wider access to medical cannabis.
Moreover, she says, many hospitals are worried about legal liability,
and discourage their practitioners from helping pediatric patients get

"Parents who want to try this for their kids have more options than
they did five years ago," she says. "But there are still a lot of
hoops to jump through, a lot of hurdles to get over."
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