Now, how timely is this, following our post earlier today on the 15 year old who found cannabis helped his insomnia?
Medical marijuana law in Maine currently allows the prescribing of cannabis to under 18’s but the Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians want to see this changed. The reason for the doctors’ unease is their belief that ease of access to marijuana poses long term risks in terms of psychosis and addiction.
“Better late than never,” says Dr. Jim Maier, specialist in treating children vulnerable to psychotic illness and member of the lobbying group. He went on to say:
“We have seen kids whose psychosis was accelerated by marijuana, and we’ve seen even kids that we’ve treated who got psychotic again when they experimented with marijuana use. So it’s not a harmless drug and we really want to get the word out as much as possible that risks and benefits need to be carefully measured.”
Sitting on the other side of the fence is Dr Gary Allegretta, a pediatric palliative care physician at Maine Medical Center. He believes that medical marijuana could be useful in the care of critically ill children. Dr Allegretta is quoted as saying:
“We have a variety of good medications for pain and symptom relief, such as narcotics, but at times it’s not completely effective for kids. It would be a reasonable approach to allow a child maybe 12 and up with parental consent to use medical marijuana for certain symptoms like pain and nausea.”
The lawmakers haven’t come to a firm decision on the age question either. Democratic Rep Anne Haskell of Portland thinks “there were mixed opinions about whether we out to find a specific age and put that in the law or not. Ms Haskell served on the medical marijuana task force in Maine and also co-chairs the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee.
Haskell herself does not oppose the prescribing of marijuana to minors, believing that it could be effective for teens undergoing chemotherapy. She emphasizes that medical cannabis should only be prescribed in a trusting and ongoing physician/patient relationship and believes that in such a relationship the drug is unlikely to be prescribed lightly.
The final recommendations of the task force are being drafted into a bill that will be coming up for public hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee later in the session.