As CBD continues to grow in popularity and availability, our qualified medical providers (QMPs) often get questions about the uses of CBD for children. As we’ve said before, children and cannabis generally don’t mix. But there are some situations in which CBD can provide effective treatment for kids.
That’s why this article comes with a heavy disclaimer. Always consult a licensed medical professional before you administer any new medications or cannabis-derived products like CBD to a child.
If you decide CBD could be right for your child, we recommend finding a qualified medical provider who specializes in cannabis and who feels comfortable recommending dosages for children. Now, let’s get into it.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive chemical compound in the Cannabis sativa plant. Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD will not cause that intoxicated or “high” feeling often associated with cannabis.
Chemists and laboratory technicians can extract CBD using carbon dioxide-based or solvent-based methods.
If you’d like to learn more about these methods and why they matter, this extraction process video on the Discover Marijuana YouTube channel and Episode 53 of the Utah in the Weeds podcast will get you up to speed.
CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps to regulate a variety of other systems. Those systems include memory, digestion, motor function, immunity, inflammation, appetite, pain, blood pressure, bone growth, and others. Basically, the ECS helps your body maintain balance.
A child’s ECS, like other parts of the body, needs time to develop. That’s why we urge parents and guardians to get a doctor’s recommendation before starting any sort of CBD regimen.
The quality and purity of CBD products varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food maintains a list of CBD products that are approved for sale in the state.
You can also ask the manufacturer for a Certificate of Analysis so you’ll have a better understanding of the product’s origin and exact contents. If they don’t have that, steer clear.
In 2014, the Utah legislature passed House Bill 105, also known as “Charlee’s Law,” which allowed patients to possess CBD oil under certain criteria. Lawmakers named the bill after Charlee Nelson, a 6-year-old girl who suffered from Batten disease. Charlee’s parents and dozens of others lobbied for legal access to CBD oil for kids and others in need in the state of Utah. Unfortunately, Charlee passed away just a few days after the bill passed, and more than two months before the law took effect.
Under H.B. 105, patients who wanted to use CBD oil needed to obtain a doctor’s letter, then register with the Department of Health.
Today, anyone in Utah can legally purchase and possess CBD products, including oil, gummies, creams, vape liquids, and other forms as long as the product contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
You can buy CBD over the counter in pharmacies, grocery stores, and convenience stores. Even some local restaurants sell CBD oil. (They recommending adding it to dry cocktails for a relaxing alternative to alcohol, but that’s a different article for another day: CBD for People Who Have Children). Back to the topic at hand.
Utah Medical Marijuana patients have the additional option of purchasing CBD products at Utah cannabis dispensaries. This includes products with less than 0.3% THC and ratio products with higher concentrations of THC. The State of Utah conducts thorough testing on all products sold via the Medical Cannabis program.
The U.S. Library of Medicine considers CBD “likely effective” in treating seizures.
A prescription form of CBD called Epidiolex has been shown to reduce seizures in children and adults who suffer from a number of conditions that cause seizures. Those conditions include Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex, Sturge-Weber syndrome, and others.
“It is also used for anxiety, pain, a muscle disorder called dystonia, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses,” an article on the USNLM’s MedLine website says.
A study conducted in Israel found CBD could be effective in treating some of the symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder. Some examples of autism “comorbidity” symptoms include anxiety, hyperactivity, and aggression. Large-scale studies on CBD and autism comorbidities are underway. We explored CBD and autism further in a recent episode of Discover Marijuana.
With the exception of three prescription medications, the FDA has not approved any cannabis products as safe and effective for anyone, even adults. Furthermore, the FDA recommends keeping cannabis products out of reach of children to reduce the risk of accidental ingestion.
Thankfully, CBD overdoses are non-fatal, but they can cause some uncomfortable side effects. We’ll define a cannabis overdose as one that causes any unpleasant side effects.
You may have heard of some of the more serious cannabis side effects, such as an elevated heart rate and feelings of anxiety or paranoia, but those symptoms usually result from too much THC, not CBD. In fact, CBD can help alleviate the effects of too much THC by replacing THC molecules attached to the receptor sites in the body’s ECS.
Although you could technically overdose on CBD, the side effects are much less severe. The most common symptom associated with a CBD overdose is lethargy. So, if your child feels sleepy after ingesting CBD, you may have given them too much. Similar to other over-the-counter medicines, a qualified medical provider will recommend dosages of CBD for children based on weight.
It’s your responsibility as a parent or guardian to maintain your child’s health and wellbeing. If you think CBD could benefit your child, make an appointment with your pediatrician or QMP. You can work together on a dosage plan that fits your child’s condition and body.