As people continue to learn about the benefits of medical marijuana, the interest of its use for children and adolescents with developmental and behavioral disorders grow. Chiildren and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are the focus according to a review in the February Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, the Society for Developmental and Pediatric’s official journal.
As of now, there is a lack of studies showing any clinical benefit of cannabis for young patients with these disorders. Evidence strongly suggests that there can be harmful effects of regular marijuana use in the developing brain. Despite that and lack of studies, the interest and possibilities continue to grow.
Because of rapid changes in US marijuana policy, the review was prompted. “A midst this political change, patients and families are increasingly asking whether cannabis and its derivatives may have therapeutic utility for a number of conditions, including developmental and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents,” according to Dr. Knight and colleagues.
Despite the fact that cannabis has proposed a range of clinical benefits in adults, the little research on adolescent use deters the cause. Dr. Knight states, “But we are really moving into entirely new territory when we consider giving cannabis to children as that has not even been done in neurotypical children, let alone those with developmental or behavioral problems.”
A number of online groups are advocating the use and these groups often use evidence cited from animal research, or from a small number of clinical reports. These beneficial effects are likely from cannibidiols, which can also benefit children with uncommon forms of epilepsy, but have limited euphoric effects, versus THC, which has strong euphoric effects. Dr Knight adds, “We need more research on cannabidiols, and the development of products that are high in cannabidiols and low in THC.”
For now, the lack of evidence is too small to make any significance. The large evidence pointing out the potential harmful effects of marijuana use with young people overshadows the potential in treating young patients with these disorders.