There are studies that suggest medical marijuana can reduce pain and even prevent suicide.
So if doctors in California can recommend it for adults, shouldn't they be able to encourage it for teens? Researchers at the Mayo Clinic just say no in an opinion published this week:
The clinic says cannabis is an “increasingly available option” for teenagers with chronic pain that doctors and parents should “avoid.”
Doctors at Mayo say these are the side effects: “Fatigue, impaired concentration and slower reaction times.”
They also argue that pot can stunt the mental development of adolescents younger than 16:
Marijuana use before age 16 has been linked to earlier development of psychosis in susceptible patients; smoking marijuana more than once a week has been connected to persistent cognitive damage in adolescents …
On top of all that, the Mayo docs suggest that teens with chronic pain might already be taking marijuana because cannabis, they argue, can be a cause. In fact, the opinion says, adolescents with pain issues should be screened for pot use.
Of course, medical marijuana for the underage is illegal in California. But that hasn't stopped some parents from getting it for kids with chronic conditions and diseases.
The clinic says that the trade-off in using marijuana for pain relief isn't worth it for teens. Co-author J. Michael Bostwick, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist:
The consequences may be very, very severe, particularly for adolescents who may get rid of their pain — or not — at the expense of the rest of their life.
“The whole point” of pain relief, he says, “is function restoration, not further functional decline.”