Few topics in medicine are as fraught with controversy as medical marijuana.
Decades of debate over the harmful effects of recreational marijuana use—to mention nothing of its depiction in popular culture—has made serious study or consideration of marijuana treatments pretty toxic.
Add children into the mix, and you have a potentially explosive combination.
Today, though, attitudes are starting to shift. More and more people are advocating for the use of medical marijuana to treat some of the most severe medical conditions, even in children. And those advocates recently won a huge victory when Connecticut passed legislation permitting the use of medical marijuana in children under 18 with some of the most severe health challenges.
First, a caveat: We’re not talking about passing around comically huge blunts or roach clips. The Connecticut legislation does not permit the use of marijuana that can be smoked or inhaled.
For the most part, parents will be using cannabis oil that can be given in drops under the tongue. And while not a substitute for FDA-approved medications, some parents of children with severe forms of epilepsy like Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome have found it a good supplemental treatment.
In fact, this was exactly what Robert Fiore had in mind when he spearheaded efforts to introduce the bill. Fiore, who founded Connecticut Epilepsy Advocate, was inspired to do something after watching a CNN documentary about marijuana use in America.
Seeing the effect cannabis oil had on young Lennox-Gastaut patients, Fiore made it his mission to give parents in his state the option to try it.
Fiore knew a little something about having seizures—he had epilepsy in his childhood. Fortunately, surgery brought his seizures under control, but that’s not always an option.
Fiore’s mission was only strengthened after meeting a family whose 11-year-old son was suffering from more than 50 seizures a day—the steady onslaught of which had left him wheelchair bound and unable to communicate or even feed himself.
The boy’s parents were among the many Connecticut residents who submitted testimony in favor of the bill, and now that it’s become law they’ll be talking to their son’s doctors about the possibility of trying it.
Whether it works or not remains to be seen: There’s still a lot we don’t know about cannabis oil’s long-term impact on a developing child.
However, for those parents watching their children suffer through pain that you and I can’t even imagine, it’s good to know the choice is there for them. And really, when it comes to your child, what wouldn’t you do to give them a better life?