Most Canadian pediatricians are shying away from medical cannabis for patients, knowing that it can hurt the developing brain and that there isn’t much research to guide them.
But physicians say they are getting increasing requests for cannabis from parents, for a growing list of conditions.
Dr. Adam Rapoport, medical director of the pediatric palliative care team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, says, “This is mostly driven by parents, and doctors have fallen behind.”
Lauren Kelly agrees. “It’s happening and we’re playing catch-up.”
Kelly is a pharmacologist and scientific director of the Canadian Childhood Cannabinoid Clinical Trials, a national research consortium. Her group is working quickly to develop answers to questions about cannabis for children. “The use of it has far outpaced the evidence, and that’s the biggest challenge.”
Fifty per cent of pediatricians surveyed in 2017 had at least one patient who had used cannabis for medical reasons in the past year. But the cannabis use is not stemming from prescriptions (called physician authorizations). Only four per cent of pediatricians said they had authorized medical cannabis for one of their patients.