Let’s talk about marijuana.
Specifically, let’s talk about how and why I came to be one of the countless parents across America (and around the world) who have let their chronically ill children try it.
A groundbreaking new study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine reported on the health benefits of cannabidiol for children with epilepsy. The randomized, double-blind, controlled study found that among children with Dravet syndrome taking cannabidiol, the decrease in the frequency of convulsive seizures was 23 percentage points greater than the decrease in seizures among children taking a placebo.
Cannabidiol is one of hundreds of chemical components found in cannabis plants. Unlike THC, the most famous of marijuana’s compounds, CBD is nonhallucinogenic and nonaddictive. It doesn’t make you high. CBD can be extracted from hemp and sold as an oil. That’s what the pioneering Stanley Brothers of Boulder, Colorado, did several years ago when they conceived and manufactured “Charlotte’s Web” — named after Charlotte Figi, a Colorado Springs girl with Dravet syndrome whose seizures dramatically decreased after using CBD.
Until now, evidence of marijuana’s benefits for pediatric epilepsy patients has been largely anecdotal. The new CBD study, led by researchers at the NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, is a hugely significant development because it uses the scientific gold standard of a randomized controlled trial. Other limited clinical trials involving CBD have explored the drug’s therapeutic benefits for pediatric patients with conditions ranging from anxiety to movement disorders to inflammatory diseases, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
My own interest in pediatric use of medicinal marijuana is more than academic.
ht/ c. steven tucker