The Canadian Paediatric Society last week released a position statement on medical cannabis for children under 18 years old, offering recommendations for physicians working with pediatric patients. The statement lays out the efficacy of medical cannabis for a handful of medical conditions, including epilepsy, autism, neurological disorders, and cancer and palliative care.
The statement notes that smoking is not recommended for pediatric patients for several reasons, “including unpredictable dosing and smoking-related respiratory hazards” and that most patients under 18 are usually given cannabinoid-containing oils. The paper adds that the use of edibles for pediatric patients is not recommended due to inconsistent cannabinoid distribution in the products.
“There is a growing body of research, of variable quality evidence, suggesting benefit of medical cannabis for some conditions in some children. Medical cannabis should only be authorized in cases where the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.” — Canadian Paediatric Society, “Medical cannabis for children: Evidence and recommendations,” Oct. 19 2023
The statement says that clinicians “should be willing and able to engage in open discussions about the potential benefits and risks of medical cannabis” and give families evidence-based and unbiased information; consider the age and diagnosis of the patient; start with “slow titration” in the administration of medical cannabis products; and seek up-to-date evidence on potential safety risks, including drug-to-drug interactions.
The organization also advocates for more education for clinicians to help them understand how cannabinoids work.