Medical Cannabis in Children
Adi Aran and Dalit Cayam-RandAbstract
The use of medical cannabis in children is rapidly growing. While robust evidence currently exists only for pure cannabidiol (CBD) to treat specific types of refractory epilepsy, in most cases, artisanal strains of CBD-rich medical cannabis are being used to treat children with various types of refractory epilepsy or irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Other common pediatric disorders that are being considered for cannabis treatment are Tourette syndrome and spasticity. As recreational cannabis use during youth is associated with serious adverse events and medical cannabis use is believed to have a relatively high placebo effect, decisions to use medical cannabis during childhood and adolescence should be made with caution and based on evidence. This review summarizes the current evidence for safety, tolerability, and efficacy of medical cannabis in children with epilepsy and in children with ASD. The main risks associated with use of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD in the pediatric population are described, as well as the debate regarding the use of whole-plant extract to retain a possible “entourage effect” as opposed to pure cannabinoids that are more standardized and reproducible.
Rambam Maimonides Med J 2020;11(1):e0003