Pediatric Cannabis Use

Written by Petar Petrov

“Cannabis and children” is a combination of words that is considered a hard no, and for good reason. The brain is believed to develop until the age of 25, which is why cannabis use, especially in large quantities over extended periods of time, can have lifelong domino effects on the underdeveloped adolescent brain.

However, medical cannabis can, at least in theory, provide benefits and relief for various pediatric diseases, rooted and/or accompanied by inflammation, pain, vomiting, a loss of appetite, and more. Moreover, and actually most importantly, pediatric cannabis use doesn’t have to actually involve full-on, intoxicating cannabis, or in other words, THC.

While studies on pediatric use of non-intoxicating cannabinoids is scarce for obvious reasons.

On the one hand, there’s not much reason to believe they’d be of any real, long-lasting harm, given their benevolent nature. This is particularly true when you compare them with prescription drugs that are being prescribed left and right to children, like Adderall, for example.

But on the other, just because the bar has been lowered in certain instances doesn’t mean it should be low altogether, especially when it comes to pediatric treatment that requires extra scrutiny.

Moreover, even non-intoxicating cannabinoids, like CBD, have shown some mixed results and even adverse effects, including ones of mental nature, despite CBD being known for anxiolytic activity.  [1]


What We Know So Far


Epidiolex made headlines as the first FDA-approved drug, comprised of an active ingredient derived from cannabis. It treats severe forms of epilepsy and has been hailed as a godsend by many children’s parents.

An overview of studies on cannabinoid treatment on children came upon some mixed results.

For one, while CBD did improve epileptic symptoms of Dravet syndrome, but at a cost – decreased appetite and adverse mental events. [1]

Moreover, even small amounts of THC seemed to negate CBD’s anti-seizure effect.

“Although CBD is associated with reducing seizure events, there is a suggesting trend that this improvement is annulled in products containing THC as well.”

And even without THC, the researchers conclude that CBD can exacerbate epilepsy conditions in some cases, even though in general it should be beneficial.


CINV (chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting)

When it comes to CINV, nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, has shown some promising results. [1] However, the researchers note the studies were a total of only two and come from the 80s.

Moreover, they point out a clear trend of THC and medical cannabis increasing the risk of adverse events, compared to CBD.


Spasticity and Other Conditions

“An open-label study of 25 children (age 1–17 years) with a complex motor disorder demonstrated improvement in spasticity and dystonia, sleep difficulties, pain severity, and quality of life” when given one of two artisanal cannabis strains, with 20:1 and 6:1 CBD:THC ratios, over a 5-month period. [2] There was no significant difference between the two strains’ effects.


Bottom Line

Pediatric cannabis use, even when that means strictly CBD, can be quite risky. The risk-reward ratio can vary tremendously on a case-by-case basis, so giving any cannabinoids to children should be done with great caution and monitored closely.


Image Credit: depositphotos



1- Treves et al, Efficacy and safety of medical cannabinoids in children: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Scientific Reportsvolume 11, Article number: 23462 (2021), Impact Factor = 4.996

2- Aran and Cayam-Rand, Medical Cannabis in Children, Rambam Maimonides Med J.2020 Jan; 11(1): e0003; Impact Factor = 1.44; Times Cited = 22

About the author

Petar Petrov

Petar is a freelance writer and copywriter, covering culture, art, society, and anything in-between that makes for a nice story. And as it so happens, cannabis is a great element to add to each of those conversations.

Leave a Comment