Author: Scott Hadland

Ask the expert: Can medical marijuana help kids with autism or ADHD?

Dr. Scott Hadland published a review on marijuana and developmental and pediatric conditions.
Dr. Scott Hadland is a general pediatrician and adolescent specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital and recently published a review on marijuana and developmental and pediatric conditions.

Marijuana policy in the United States is changing rapidly, with some states (including every state in New England) legally allowing marijuana to be used for medical reasons. Washington State and Colorado recently voted to allow the recreational use of marijuana, and Massachusetts may hold a similar ballot measure in 2016. It’s no surprise, then, that many parents wonder whether marijuana might have any benefits for certain pediatric conditions, and whether it’s safe for children.

A quick Facebook search shows that a number of groups have cropped up calling for medical marijuana for conditions like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some of these online groups point to studies showing that medical marijuana is helpful in these conditions. Other groups tell compelling stories about a child who was struggling with autism whose behavior was dramatically better after being treated with marijuana.

Before doctors recommend a new treatment, we always make sure that carefully conducted studies have answered two critical questions. First, does the treatment actually work? And second, is it harmful? In essence, we need to be sure that the benefits outweigh the risks.

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