Loosen Up Pot Restrictions—So We Can Study It

Much more data needed on medical effects of marijuana: Devinsky, Friedman
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2014 11:33 AM CST

(Newser) – A story making the rounds on social media goes like this: A young girl's epileptic seizures went from hundreds a week down to just a few a month after her parents began treating her with marijuana. Her case prompted families of children with similar disorders to move to Colorado to take advantage of legalized marijuana; others found official or not-so-official ways to give pot to their kids. But "the truth is we lack evidence not only for the efficacy of marijuana, but also for its safety," Orrin Devinsky and Daniel Friedman write for the New York Times. In fact, evidence for marijuana use in children points to an increased risk of serious psychiatric disorders and long-term cognitive problems, but what's really needed are randomized placebo-controlled trials.

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That's just what Devinsky and Friedman are trying to do—test and vet marijuana strains—but there's a paradox: Even as states increasingly make "medical" marijuana available to parents to give their kids, the federal government labels marijuana ingredients as "Schedule 1 drugs," meaning they have "a lack of accepted safety," and "a high potential for abuse" which makes studying them in patients difficult for doctors. Now Devinsky and Friedman are asking that marijuana be moved to a less restrictive category so valid data can be gained "before more children are exposed to potential risks, before more desperate families uproot themselves and spend their life savings on unproven miracle marijuana cures." Click for their full column. (Read more opinion stories.)

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