NEW YORK (MainStreet) — In what is sure to be one of the more controversial aspects coming out of Colorado, if not the medical marijuana movement right, now is the use of the drug and the chemicals it contains on children with debilitating (mainly) neurological conditions.
Enter the children's medical marijuana advocates, a surprising but increasing number of both doctors and parents in Colorado and Israel who are administering marijuana to children if not tots to help manage the same debilitating disabilities cannabinoids are increasingly used for in adults.
In the U.S. that includes a special bred strain of low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)/high-cannabidiol (CBD) marijuana named after Charlotte Figi, a five-year-old who suffered from a rare condition causing hundreds of seizures a week. That is until her desperate parents turned to the web for research and found the marijuana they now use to treat their child as a last hope salvation. Since then, Charlotte's story has been featured on national TV, drawing even more attention if not relocating families, desperate for anything that will provide relief for critically ill children.
THC is the cannabinoid that produces the "high" marijuana is famous for. CBD is not psychoactive, although it too is classified as a cannabinoid.
The strain called Charlotte's Web, produced by the Stanley family, one of Colorado's largest growers and dispensary owners, does not produce a "high" (because of the low THC content) and is administered as oil extract marketed as "Realm Oil" and "Alepsia." The Stanleys subsequently started a 501(c) 3 organization called The Realm of Caring Foundation to "better provide a better quality of life for residents of Colorado ... through the use of concentrated medicinal cannabis oil."
According to the Stanleys, the medical oil they use currently is actually made from hemp rather than marijuana. The plants are the same genus of the species Cannabis L. Sativa, but marijuana is bred for higher THC content whereas hemp, historically an industrial plant, is bred for other qualities including fiber content.
That development if not most facts about this story still does not make many doctors, at least in the U.S., sanguine about the prescription or the topic. This month, however, the issue took on a very different hue in Israel.
As of the first week in March 2014, the Israeli health ministry ruled that parents and children should be able to access state controlled medical marijuana for children with pediatric seizures.
The move came after 15 families appealed denials to access these treatments for their children and threatened to leave the country for Colorado for the same unless approved. These families should, per the ministry's ruling at the beginning of the month, be able to access the Israeli medical marijuana system by the end of March. In a further move, the ministry also said it would begin reviewing other cases previously turned down for the same treatment. There are approximately 13,000 medical marijuana patients in Israel, a country of 8 million, according to the Times of Israel.
Epilepsy and seizures are not currently approved conditions in Israel to be treated with medical marijuana, which is tested and developed in country for a growing range of pharmaceutical drugs to treat both brain injuries and other neurological conditions. An exception will now be made for minors and for adults on a case-by-case basis.
The development is so new in the United States that there is little public outcry or concern about the use of pediatric cannabinoids, outside the muted statements of doctors (in Colorado and beyond) who oppose flat out the use of any cannabinoids in children until further trials and tests have been done.
That time is not a luxury that parents with suffering children have. The results in many treated with the medicament, often a last course of action in itself, are so drastic that families, in this case, are moving far faster than the FDA.
--Written by Marguerite Arnold for MainStreet