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Health officials are investigating an outbreak of serious vaping-related lung disease known as EVALI. Over 2,600 people have been hospitalized and 60 have died; half of the cases or deaths reported were patients under 24 years of age. Vaping marijuana seems to be the cause, particularly from informal sources like friends, family, in-person or online dealers – the sources that teens are most likely to use.

Experts recommend no vaping or e-cigarette use while these illnesses are being investigated, particularly of marijuana products, and from informal sources. If you or someone you know has lung problems after vaping, get medical attention right away.

Health authorities continue to warn that youth, young adults, and pregnant women should never use vape products.

Learn more:

Also see: Health Alert – Vaping & Coronavirus

Medicine bottle with marijuana symbol on label

What is medical marijuana?

WHAT WE KNOW: Medical marijuana is an alternative treatment for qualifying health conditions using doses of CBD and THC, which are cannabinoids found in marijuana. In California, medicinal cannabis is regulated by the state and requires a physician’s recommendation or a Medical Marijuana ID Card. Patients under the age of 18 also require a parent’s or guardian’s consent.

You can learn more about California’s Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program at:

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING:  Studies on the long-term health and safety of medical marijuana for children are still ongoing. Proven health benefits of THC and CBD medications are emerging but require further research, especially for children and teens. Parents should seek medical advice and consider possible risks to their child's brain development.

Young teen girl looking pensive

Should youth have access to medical cannabis?

WHAT WE KNOW:  There is anecdotal evidence of cannabis as an effective treatment in certain pediatric illnesses, for example seizure disorders. However, there is limited, high-quality research about safety, effectiveness and side effects. Even doctors who are supportive of medical marijuana may not be able to offer a safe 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: The FDA has approved oral Epidiolex® for the prescribed treatment of severe pediatric seizures of epilepsy. It is considered safe and reliable and is reported to have only mild side effects. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) said, “The approval of Epidiolex is a major milestone in bringing safe, effective, cannabinoid-based medications to patients.”

Arrows pointing in many directions

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 scromiting?

WHAT WE KNOW: A small number of frequent marijuana users may develop Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), sometimes referred to as scromiting (screaming + vomiting). Patients may experience acute stomach pain, nausea, and severe vomiting. Hot showers often provide relief and medical care is advised for severe symptoms.

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING:  Emergency Department cases of CHS have increased with the availability of legal marijuana. Research is continuing on young patients, but parents should watch for extreme stomach upset and compulsive showering and bathing.