The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to uphold its stance on opposing marijuana legalization, according to a recently updated policy statement.
The statement, published online Jan. 26 in Pediatrics, cites potential harm to children and adolescents. The updated policy also includes option for compassionate use of marijuana for children with debilitating or life-limiting diseases.
At the same time, the academy also is recommending that marijuana be decriminalized, allowing for marijuana-related offenses to be reduced to lesser criminal charges or civil penalties, according to Pediatrics.
We know marijuana can be very harmful to adolescent health and development, Seth D. Ammerman, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse and an author of the policy statement said in the Pediatrics article. Making it more available to adults even if restrictions are in place will increase the access for teens. Just the campaigns to legalize marijuana can have the effect of persuading adolescents that marijuana is not dangerous, which can have a devastating impact on their lifelong health and development.
In adolescents, marijuana can impair concentration and memory, interfere with learning and is linked to lower odds of completing high school and college, according to Pediatrics. Frequent use is also is associated with psychological problems, poorer lung health and a higher likelihood of drug dependence in adulthood. The drugs interference with motor control, coordination and judgement also are a concern because of the risk of unintentional deaths and injuries.
Among other AAP recommendations regarding marijuana use are research and development of pharmaceutical cannabinoids, robust health surveillance by federal and state governments regarding effects of marijuana, particularly in adolescents, rules and regulations that limit access, marketing and advertising to children and child-proof packaging of marijuana in states where the drug is legal, according to Pediatrics.
While cannabinoids may have potential as a therapy for a number of medical conditions, dispensing marijuana raises concerns regarding purity, dosing and formulation, all of which are of heightened importance in children, William P. Adelman, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Adolescence and an author of the policy statement said in the Pediatrics article. We need further research to determine the efficacy and correct dosing for cannabinoids, and we need to formulate cannabinoids safely as we do for any other medication.
For more information visit http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/01/20/peds.2014-4146.