Pediatric association against allowing medical pot in Massachusetts schools

The use of medical marijuana by students, the subject of a study waiting for Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature, is not being backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“The AAP opposes medical marijuana outside the regulatory process of the US Food and Drug Administration,” an academy spokesperson told the Herald Tuesday.

The state Legislature sent the governor a host of changes to the state’s weed laws Monday, including a proposal to study giving students access to medical marijuana during the school day, as the Herald first reported.

“The cannabis control commission, in consultation with the department of elementary and secondary education and the department of public health, shall conduct a study on the possession, administration and consumption of medical marijuana, as defined in chapter 94I, at public or private schools in the commonwealth as it relates to students,” the proposed law reads.

The association of children’s doctors says that so far there is not enough information yet about appropriate dosing and side effects to make a decision on the matter.

“There are no research studies on the use of medical marijuana in teens, so actual indications, appropriate dosing, effects, and side effects are unknown. The only data available on medical marijuana in the pediatric population are limited to its use in children with severe refractory seizures,” the organization counsels parents.

State Sen. Michael Rodrigues, a conference on the bill which emerged Monday, said that lawmakers were looking into whether there were ways to help “students that would greatly benefit from medical use marijuana as an accommodation.”

A spokesperson for the governor would only say Baker carefully reviews all legislation he received and did not comment on the study.

There are a number of conditions — cancer, epilepsy, nausea, muscle spasm, some terminal disease — for which children in some states are already receiving marijuana treatment of some kind.

The pediatric association acknowledges that there are circumstances when use of marijuana for a teen may be the only option.

“The AAP recognizes that marijuana may currently be an option for cannabinoid administration for children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate,” the organization says in a policy statement.

Still, according to AAP, teen use of marijuana may not be safe due to the still-growing state of their brains and bodies.

“Marijuana is not a benign drug for teens. The teen brain is still developing, and marijuana may cause abnormal brain development,” the spokesperson shared with the Herald. “Teens who use marijuana regularly may develop serious mental health disorders, including addiction, depression, and psychosis.”

MassGOP chair Jim Lyons also knocked the idea as tone-deaf amid an opioid crisis.

“Maybe the Legislature is unaware of the drug epidemic we are experiencing in America,” he said. “Many of those suffering today started by smoking marijuana… the heroin and fentanyl explosion in Massachusetts is real and is killing our kids. This is just another example of how out of touch the radical left is with the problems facing families in Massachusetts.”

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