This story first appeared in Cannabis Now magazine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is the most recent organization to recommend the decriminalization and reclassification of cannabis.
The professional membership organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical sub-specialists and pediatric surgical specialists, published an update to their 2004 policy statement titled “Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth.”
Since it was originally published, over a decade ago, very little research has been done to fully illustrate the powerful effects of cannabinoids on adults with certain conditions. The main reason for the lack of academic research is the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which is defined by the DEA as a drug with high potential for abuse and no medical use in the United States. Other drugs in the Schedule I classification include methaqualone, heroin and LSD.
The most well known cases showing the potential benefit of marijuana and children come from the anecdotal evidence of families with children with severe seizures. In September, 2014 the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus began a groundbreaking clinical trial, studying children with a form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome in relation to the effects of a high-CBD strain of marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web.
Twenty-three states have legalized marijuana for use to treat the symptoms of certain medical conditions, in direct contradiction to the Schedule I definition. In response to the continuing changes in public understanding and state legislation, the AAP has revised its previous statement to include ten new conclusions regarding marijuana usages in legalized and medical states.
The organization strongly supports the continued research of CBD, would like to see a review of current policies promoting research on its use, and recommends that the federal government reschedule cannabis. Additionally, the AAP supports the decriminalization of marijuana use and recommends pediatricians advocate for policies that prevent criminal penalties. Instead, they would like to see more of a focus on treatment for youth with regards to cannabis, suggesting that adolescents with marijuana use problems be referred to treatment.
The recommendation to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule II drug, a group that includes drugs like Ritalin and Adderall, has been echoed by several other major organizations in the past year including The American Medical Association as well as several governors.
Attorney General Eric Holder noted in a House Appropriations Committee hearing last spring that the Obama Administration is willing to work with Congress “if there is a desire to look at and reexamine how the drug is scheduled.”
This announcement offers potential solace to the hundreds of families that have fled their homes and moved to Colorado in the hopes of finding relief from cannabis for the severely debilitating and potentially life-threatening illness that plague their children.