Medical cannabis has become more common across the United States as laws become less restrictive and patients are looking for alternative options to traditional pharmaceuticals and drugs. With the growth in use and popularity, many parents wonder if medical marijuana use could also benefit their children. Each state has different laws and requirements for recommendations; however, most allow children to obtain cannabis for medical purposes. The process is a bit more restrictive in Florida, with additional conditions and restrictions, which we will cover in this article.
Medical Use Of Marijuana Rules Under 381.986
With the passing of Florida’s medical marijuana laws and the development of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, some rules were written to outline the requirements for minors. Some of the main components are outlined below.
- Has determined that the risks of treating the patient with low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis are reasonable in light of the potential benefit to the patient. If a patient is younger than 18 years, a second physician must concur with this determination, and such a decision must be documented in the patient’s medical record.
- A qualified physician may not issue a physician certification for marijuana in the form of smoking to a patient under 18 years of age unless the patient is diagnosed with a terminal condition, the qualified physician determines that smoking is the most effective route of administration for the patient, and a second physician who is a board-certified pediatrician concurs with such determination. Such determination and concurrence must be documented in the patient’s medical record and in the medical marijuana use registry. The certifying physician must obtain the written informed consent of such patient’s parent or legal guardian before issuing a physician certification for marijuana in a form for smoking. The qualified physician must use a standardized informed consent form adopted in rule by the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine, which must include information concerning the negative health effects of smoking marijuana on persons under 18 years of age and an acknowledgment that the qualified physician has sufficiently explained the contents of the form.
- A minor must provide the department with a certified copy of a birth certificate or a current record of registration from a Florida K-12 school and must have a parent or legal guardian.
In summary, those under 18 years of age are restricted from using whole flower (the traditional bud of the cannabis plant) unless determined to have a terminal condition by a board-certified pediatrician. A certification also requires the opinion of two medical doctors or certifying physicians that medical cannabis would be beneficial to them. The minor patient must also have a parent or legal guardian listed and registered as a caretaker on their profile with the OMMU.
Conditions Minors Seek To Treat With Marijuana
Medical cannabis is used to treat many conditions and symptoms with excellent results in adults. Adults seek medical marijuana more often for conditions seen less frequently in children, such as arthritis, glaucoma, Parkinson’s, MS, in addition to many other symptoms that develop as we age. Some of the conditions parents seek cannabis usage out for their children are:
- Seizure Disorders
- Crohn’s Disease
- Behavioral Conditions
Some Reasons To Be Cautious
Parents and physicians need to remain open to the risks of medical marijuana, and cannabinoid use in children, as frequent marijuana use at an early age poses a greater risk of long-lasting impairment on cognition, brain structure, and function. This can be, associated with a potential decline in intelligence measurement and the possibility of increased incidence and worsened psychotic, mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders. It is also notable that only pure CBD for epilepsy has been thoroughly evaluated in controlled trials thus far, so there are still many unknowns.
With this being said, the ability to find alternatives to some of the frequently prescribed pharmaceuticals is an attractive benefit that should not be overlooked as these drugs often have side effects associated with them, which can be quite debilitating.
The Future Of Pediatric Cannabis Usage
The future of cannabis usage in the pediatric population continues to grow in popularity and as more states are open to its medical benefits and are expanding their medical marijuana programs. With more pediatric patients using medical cannabis, we will begin to see more data, studies, and efficacy of the use in the population. As more peer-reviewed studies are conducted, we will likely see a much greater acceptance by other medical providers on its use, particularly those who are now prescribing alternative cannabinoid options such as Dronabinol, Nabilone, Epidiolex, etc.
Where To Get Pediatric Cannabis Certifications In Florida
Although the added rules in Florida’s medical marijuana legislation make some certifying providers steer clear of certifying minor patients, others are more open to the benefits medical marijuana offers. For example, at Compassionate Healthcare of Florida, we have a board-certified pediatrician on staff in addition to other certifying providers so we can meet the needs and requirements of seeing this demographic. Although not all minor patients are good candidates for medical cannabis treatment, others do respond amazingly to cannabinoid therapy when other pharmaceutical options are lacking.