What is medical marijuana?

WHAT WE KNOW:  Medical marijuana is an alternative treatment for health conditions using doses of CBD and/or THC, which are cannabinoids found in marijuana. In California, medical cannabis is regulated by the state and involves obtaining a medical marijuana card, and patients under the age of 18 require parent consent.

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING:  As yet, there is no long-term data on the safety of using medical marijuana or cannabinoids with children. Advocacy groups like Moms for Medical Marijuana work to advance information and treatment for youth and adult patients, but parents should consider seeking medical advice for their teens.

Should youth have access to medical marijuana?

WHAT WE KNOW:  Although there is anecdotal evidence of cannabis as an effective treatment in certain pediatric illnesses, for example seizure disorders, there is limited, high-quality research about safety and effectiveness. Even doctors who are supportive of medical marijuana may not be able to offer a comprehensive treatment plan for young patients. Any decision to prescribe should take into consideration possible negative effects on brain development or school performance.

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING:  Parents and other adults should seek professional medical advice as part of their consideration of cannabis therapy for their teens.

Is medical marijuana useful for treating ADHD?

WHAT WE KNOW:  There are anecdotal reports from parents and some doctors that cannabis can be an effective therapy for ADHD. However, the relationship between ADHD and cannabis is varied and highly personalized, and reports include concerns about ADHD patients being prone to cannabis misuse. Studies seem to show a lack of significant findings when ADHD and cannabis users are compared, but also cite concern about negative effects on the developing brain. Marijuana may interfere with ADHD prescription medication and should only be added with a doctor’s approval.

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING:  If you have a child with ADHD and are considering cannabis as a possible treatment, discuss it with your physician. ADHD is not traditionally a listed condition for cannabis therapy, so it is important to find an experienced doctor.

Teen feeling nauseous

What is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)?

WHAT WE KNOW: Although some people successfully use cannabis for nausea relief, in some cases chronic use of it may actually cause vomiting and severe intestinal distress. Emergency rooms have seen an increase in acute vomiting and extreme stomach upset in marijuana users since legality and availability have increased.

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING:  Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome may be related to potency or dosing of marijuana. Many patients report relief with hot showers for reasons that are unclear.

“The American Academy of Family Physicians recognizes that there is support for the medical use of marijuana but advocates that usage be based on high quality, patient-centered, evidence-based research and advocates for further studies into the use of medical marijuana and related compounds.”

AAFP Policy, May 2016