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1 year ago
An 8-Year-Old Girl Was Prescribed Medical Marijuana for Her Epilepsy

An 8-year-old girl in Mexico will soon be the first authorized purchaser of medical marijuana in her country.

The Mexican government is making an exception to its marijuana ban for Graciela Elizalde, who suffers from 400 epileptic seizures a day, the Associated Foreign Press (AFP) reports.

The government announced in a statement that it would facilitate the paperwork needed to import a cannabis oil for Graciela that is believed will help with her seizures.

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Graciela has not spoken since saying “mommy” when she was less than 2 years old—and she still wears diapers. She’s even undergone brain surgery to help ease her seizures, but nothing has worked.

But while marijuana is slowly gaining ground as a medical tool (and more than 20 U.S. states have legalized it for medical use), is it really safe for an 8-year-old?

Typically yes, says Seth Ammerman, M.D., a clinical professor at Stanford University’s Department of Pediatrics in the division of adolescent medicine.

Ammerman points out that there are many active ingredients or chemicals in marijuana (called “cannabinoids”). The cannabinoid typically used for children and seizures is called cannabidiol (CBD). It’s non-psychoactive, meaning a child won’t get high after taking it.

Ammerman says there’s very little clinical research about the use of medical marijuana for any condition, but some studies are currently in progress in the U.S. on marijuana as a treatment for epilepsy.

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Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University, however, have discovered that some cannabinoids may play a role in controlling spontaneous epileptic seizures.

Ammerman also cites results of a small report by parents, published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, that found mixed results for children with epilepsy who took marijuana: Some children didn’t experience any seizures at all after taking it; others had a reduction in seizures.

Children usually take marijuana in the form of cannabis oil, says Ammerman, and it’s typically flavored just like liquid antibiotics for kids to make it taste better.

But dosage for a child is tricky because there really isn’t a lot to go on. “The medical marijuana dispensary would suggest dosing,” he says, “but the parents typically have to play around with it to find what works best.”

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Of course, as with any medication, there’s a chance it could end up in the wrong hands. Ammerman says researchers don’t know about any negative consequences of another child accidentally ingesting CBD but says there have been a lot of cases of children in Colorado ending up in the ER after eating edible or drinkable THC (the chemical responsible for marijuana's high).

Graciela’s father Raul Elizalde told the AFP that the family is “happy” about the approval, adding that the medication is “our last hope."

"We want to reduce the number of convulsions from 400 per day to none,” he says. “We hope that she could become more independent, that she could walk and speak and eat on her own.”

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