Under the new rules, which went into effect on New Year's Day, children diagnosed with a qualifying debilitating condition will be able to obtain marijuana-infused products but not raw marijuana for smoking. To obtain the treatment, children need a signature from their own physician, an additional doctor's review and authorization and parental permission.
Supporters see the Illinois action as a step toward allowing children the potential benefits of medicinal marijuana. A hybrid marijuana strain called Charlotte's Web has a growing following of parents who believe it's an effective treatment for children suffering from severe seizures. Two U.S. drug companies have launched studies into the effects of CBD on childhood seizures but results will not be available for years. In the meantime, skeptics question whether the treatment is truly helpful.
CMDA’s National Director of Campus & Community Ministries Dr. J. Scott Ries, MD: “It didn’t take long. The marijuana joy-ride train that seems to be traversing the nation stopped at a station in Illinois. With that state’s legislature legalizing the use of so-called ‘medical marijuana’ for children, it begs the question of what’s next.
“To be sure, there is hardly a more difficult scenario for a family and their physician than to see a child suffering from painful and tragic disorders that are difficult to control. I have sat beside parents as they bear the intensely painful burden of their child’s last moments on earth. I have held seizing children as yet another episode of their refractory seizures takes hold. However, this move opens a Pandora’s box of ethical and clinical concerns related to using marijuana products in children.
“Though it may be that newer genetically modified marijuana plant derivatives may have a lower THC component, low-THC is not no-THC. The truth is we simply do not know the ramifications of allowing children access to marijuana—be they short-term or long-term consequences.
“We do know that: the younger a person is exposed to marijuana, the greater their likelihood of addiction; the majority of the limited studies available on ‘medical marijuana’ are limited to animal models, not human subjects; and safer, better studied options are available for the scenarios for which marijuana has been legalized in Illinois.
“It seems political agenda and emotional response have trumped scientific rationale and a cautious primum non nocere. At best, what we can say pertaining to the use of marijuana in our children is we simply don’t know its consequence. At worst, it hails of even more problems to come.
“As I mentioned in a previous commentary, we would do well as Christian healthcare professionals to remember Paul’s counsel that while everything may be legal, everything is not necessarily good. ‘We are free to do all things, but there are things which it is not wise to do. We are free to do all things, but not all things are for the common good’ (1 Corinthians 10:23, BBE).”
Editor's Note: Though proponents claim that medical marijuana (ie. cannabinoid) has less addictive THC, "low THC is not the same as "no THC."
A five-part series on marijuana from Dr. Walt Larimore
The Effects of Marijuana by Donal O'Mathuna
University of Notre Dame Myths and Current Research