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Pediatric Cannabis Therapy

Trial and Error

by Tab Moura

So, you are interested in using cannabis therapeutically for your child… What now? Next to our most frequently asked “why would a child need cannabis?” we frequently hear that parents would prefer something natural for their kids, but they could never give something like Cannabis to their kids without a considerable amount of research first. I assure you, I completely support this position; I’ve said those words myself. It can be quite challenging to navigate this as a parent, and in uncertain times it can be even more overwhelming to consider navigating this on your own.

When I first began looking into cannabis therapy for my children, I had one extremely helpful individual (a seasoned processor) who was eager to support me while learning what strains and methods might work best for my girls’ needs. He taught us “how to fish” so to speak; much of our early success with this plant was due to this man’s willingness to help. We gradually began making our own medicines to get more and more terpene specific, while still avoiding our food allergies. When I think back to those early days, I recall how paralyzed I felt by my lack of knowledge… but I took that anxiety, converted it into curiosity, and pursued formal cannabis education.

Even with formal education, it was tricky to navigate dosing and ingestion methods, because the girls weren’t the best at giving me feedback. Only 1 of my 3 children were able to speak when we began cannabis therapy, so we had to find creative ways of getting feedback from them. As a rule, I am mindful that while my kids’ health affects me, it’s not my body. I am not medicating them to make me more comfortable, but to help them feel more comfortable. How could I possibly do this without their feedback? If we were tracking an adult therapy plan it would be measurable and include industry terms, like indica, sativa, euphoria, giddy, sedation, etc. Children may find super creative ways to say the same: “slow” and “bouncy” to describe indica vs sativa, or “shiny” “silly” and “knocked out” to describe euphoria, giddiness and sedation. It doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you have a mutual understanding of what they are describing.

While I actively sample everything my children will consume, this practice will not predict how they will individually respond, because we all have different weights and health conditions. Cannabis strains, which are made up of various cannabinoids and terpenes, impact each of us differently. Kids are no exception. My autistic kids respond really well to terpenes that promote focus, whereas those same terpenes might overstimulate my kiddo with seizures, because hyper-focus is already one of her neurological symptoms. Also, as many pediatric caregivers have witnessed, children often don’t mind how a cannabis product tastes when they know it makes them feel good (yes, even the earthiest tasting tinctures or oils.) My children rarely disapprove of a product. I also made my own visual pain/emotion scale for my children (using one of their favorite cartoon characters) so they could express themselves, even without words.

We simply cannot build a successful therapy plan without consumer feedback, but feedback doesn’t need to be verbal. What feels like “trial and error” today, is experience that will later become someone else’s scaffolding. Every one of us is interconnected, fates intertwined, working together to elevate the cannabis community.

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Monthly Therapy Planning Tips:

Trial and error is a crucial part of every cannabis therapy plan; while it can feel overwhelming, the sooner you embrace the important role it plays, the sooner you or your children will benefit from cannabis therapy. As always, we recommend starting “low and slow,” meaning low dosing, and space the doses out. For pediatrics you can always begin with a higher CBD %, and track their progress to give your consultant, bud tender or processor, insight on how to best support you.

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