Times Are Changing on Medical Marijuana For Children (originally posted October 20, 2018)

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What wouldn’t a parent do for an ailing child? In many circles, this age-old question is a serious subject of debate.

Millions of people have had their minds change in recent years about the benefits of medicinal marijuana. But for many, the use of it on children remain still too controversial to bend on.

That too, as with most things, is starting to change… ever so slowly.

First, let’s back up a minute and look at what medical marijuana actually treats. It is being used in 30 states plus D.C. It has been proven to help with everything from nausea and anxiety to glaucoma and nerve pain.

Some believe its number of effective uses will only grow. One area that might just be its largest growth opportunity is in treatments of disorders and diseases that primarily affect children. That’s where the controversy comes in.

Right now, it is being studied around the world as a potential treatment for autism and even epilepsy. These are series problems children face, ones with limited other effective options.

Clinical trials for medical marijuana on children as young as five-years old are being done in Israel, New York and San Diego. More and more companies are toying with synthetic versions of cannabinoids for medical use.

So far, the results are frankly mixed. However, it has proven to significantly help some that have had no success elsewhere.

But even as these trials are still being done, politicians are seeing the tides for this controversial approach to children disorders change.

More than a year and a half after signing the first medical marijuana legislation into law, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf tweeted this last month:

“Meet TJ & Cora — they’re twins living with autism. Medical marijuana helps make their symptoms manageable, which improves their quality of life. Proud of the work my admin has done to bring vital #MMJ treatment to families across PA.“

https://twitter.com/GovernorTomWolf/status/1016782579272507398

Even a year and a half before this, when he was pushing for medical marijuana to gain legal status in the swing state, it was a dogfight. Now, he not only advocates for its use in his state… he does so for treatment of autism in children – a yet-to-be-completely-proven use of the drug.

While Wolf is a Democrat, his party isn’t the only one fighting this fight. Earlier this year, Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas signed into law the sale of cannabis oil for use in epilepsy… even for children. The first child in the state received this treatment in February.

It is important to note, here, however that Abbott’s law is only for the use of cannabis strings with low THC levels. This is an important distinction because it is also a shield for conservatives like Abbott and other Republicans are using to pass such legislation.

This fight for medical marijuana in use of child disorders and diseases actually works well with this shield. You see, CBD oils are the primary topic of research for these ailments. Meaning, the types of cannabis plants that could get more action on the medical side are actually industrial hemp plants, not traditional marijuana ones.

Now, these trends are certainly going to continue. If a staunch conservative like Abbott, or even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as we pointed out on Thursday, can get behind cannabis for either medical or purely economic reasons, we’ll continue to see change.

While the use of medical marijuana for children remains controversial, it might just be the reason change in opinion continues to happen at breakneck speed. As investors, the piece of this story worth following the closest is where the research will head.

Companies like Insys Terapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:INSY) are working on this exact subject matter. While Pennsylvania and Minnesota are the only two states that have specifically passed legislation for the use of medical marijuana on autism, if these private researchers find stronger links for the use of it for this purpose, more states will pass similar bills.

This is one area we’ll continue to track. After all, the idea of giving children marijuana to help them would have seemed insane just a few years ago. Now, both political parties in the U.S. are beginning to do just that.

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