Medical marijuana is becoming legal in an increasing number of US states. Many states share qualifying conditions, as research continues into the possibilities of medical cannabis. But it’s not just adults who may benefit from medical marijuana, or MMJ.
Many Americans are aware of stories like that of Charlotte Figi, a young girl with severe epilepsy who used CBD oil to help with her seizures. Although Charlotte used CBD, several researchers have now found that other cannabinoids might help children with particular ailments.
In this guide, we will be letting you know how those under 18 can apply for a medical marijuana card. Perhaps more importantly, we will explain whether medical cannabis is actually safe for minors. Read on to find out all you need to know.
Medical Marijuana: What You Need to Know
Medical marijuana refers to the use of the cannabis plant in therapeutic ways. Many US states have now legalized medical cannabis, meaning that qualifying patients can apply to use the plant for medicinal purposes.
One vital thing to note here is that you must qualify for medical marijuana. In other words, you can’t go to your physician with a one-off headache and receive a recommendation for cannabis. Each US state has its own specific list of qualifying conditions, so you’ll need to research particular laws in your locality to find out whether you or a family member qualifies.
Although many people assume that ‘medical marijuana’ refers to smoking, this is not necessarily the case. Patients can consume cannabis by smoking, vaping, edibles (food), or even in capsules and tinctures.
Lots of people have their concerns about medical marijuana. However, if you use it properly, then you should stay safe. First of all, you should always use MMJ under the observation of a physician, not least because of the law! This means regular check-ups to ensure you’re responding well to cannabis and using it properly.
With proper usage, medical cannabis can be brilliant. But usually, states only allow qualifying patients to access medical marijuana if they’re over 21 years of age. Is this because it’s unsafe for children?
Is Medical Marijuana Safe for Children?
There’s less research on cannabis use in children than there is in adults. There’s a lot of unknowns, including potential addiction to marijuana and concerns about brain development. A couple of studies suggest that high THC usage can affect developing brains, leading to difficulties down the line.
Possible side effects of marijuana and its impact on the brain, respiratory system, and the circulatory system are worth considering. That being said, sometimes the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
For some parents, watching their children suffer from a qualifying condition for MMJ can be heart-breaking. For example, conditions like epilepsy are traumatic for parents to deal with. Considering that these patients will be able to access MMJ after they turn 21, it makes sense for doctors to allow minors to use medical cannabis in some instances.
Many states allow minors to use MMJ, assessed on a case-by-case basis. In these instances, extra care and consideration needs to be taken, ensuring that the patient is safe and well at all times throughout the process. Doctors will recommend only small amounts, and it often must be proven that all other treatments have failed prior to MMJ application.
Under these circumstances, medical marijuana can be safe for minors. However, a caregiver must be appointed.
What Is a Medical Marijuana Caregiver?
A caregiver is the designated individual who oversees the wellbeing of a patient using MMJ. You do not need to be related to the individual, but you must be in close enough contact with them to oversee their treatment.
The caregiver’s role includes purchasing cannabis from a dispensary, possibly storing the cannabis once obtained, and helping the individual to use MMJ properly. In states where patients can grow cannabis plants for medical use, this responsibility falls to the caregiver.
The designation of a caregiver means that the application process is slightly different for minors. Rather than applying for MMJ themselves, the caregiver will need to fill out the forms for them, as well as filling out a separate caregiver form.
Applying for a Minor’s MMJ Card: The Process
Applying for medical marijuana is different in every state. For more information, check out our detailed guides on how to apply for marijuana in your state; these will help you with the specific process you need to follow.
Generally, patients will need to visit a physician who can recommend marijuana. In some states, you must have a bona fide physician-patient relationship. In other states, like California, you can visit a doctor that specializes in marijuana and can assess the situation.
Minors with chronic conditions, such as the ones that usually appear on qualifying conditions lists, usually have detailed medical records. As a result, physicians can easily view the patient’s medical history to decide whether cannabis may help. Typically, the patient must have tried all other treatments and demonstrate that they have failed.
Once the patient has a doctor’s recommendation, the caregiver has to complete the application process. This means filling out caregiver forms, patient forms, and sending off registry fees. At this point, you should also become familiar with your state’s program and find out where you can access cannabis.
The process of applying for MMJ is not all that difficult. Our guides here at WayofLeaf are there to help you through every step of the process; just make sure you’re reading the correct guide for your state.
Final Thoughts: Can a Minor Use MMJ?
States with legal medical cannabis may allow minors to access the program. It’s vital to consider the pros and cons of giving MMJ to a minor, but in some cases, the benefits outweigh the possible side effects. In other words, medical cannabis is just like any other medication.
To answer the titular questions, minors can use medical cannabis in select states. In many cases, it is perfectly safe to do so – but you must use MMJ in cooperation with a physician. Make sure that, as the caregiver, you do your research on medical cannabis and the MMJ program in your state. If you follow the advice of a professional, then the entire process can run really smoothly.
If you have questions, a good idea is to write them down and make sure you ask your physician when you attend the appointment. And don’t forget, our articles are packed full of fundamental information about MMJ, so you will doubtless find the answers to many of your questions right here at WayofLeaf.