If you are a parent treating your child with cannabis in Southern California, then you are probably a patient of Dr. Bonni Goldstein’s. Or, you are on her months-long wait list. We all agree, our families are very lucky to have an expert in pediatric cannabis in our own backyard. She has been recommending cannabis to children in our community and supporting our parents for years now. And since my son is one of the few kids around here who actually isn’t her patient, I felt especially lucky to get to spend some time with her on the phone the other day. I’m helping out with a project that led me to her and in our exchange I learned a piece of information I wanted to share with you. I get asked this question a lot:
Is it legal for children to use medical marijuana in California?
The short answer is YES. But says who?
I asked Dr. Bonni for help with the long answer. Where specifically are the references? She first pointed me in the direction of The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (prop 215) which is the actual legislation that allows physicians to legally recommend medical cannabis to all qualifying patients, including minors. I’d read that before and found it frustratingly vague, so I really liked where she sent me next.
To help clarify for physicians who recommend medical marijuana as a treatment option for minors, the California Medical Association published in 2001 (and updated in 2009) the following guidelines:
“The CUA (Compassionate Use Act of 1996) does not exclude minors. Moreover, the MMP (Medical Marijuana Program) clarifies that minors are covered by the CUA and can obtain identity cards with the consent of their parents or guardians. (Health & Safety Code 11362.715) However, a physician should proceed cautiously. The physician should ensure that:
1.) the parents or guardians are fully informed about the risks and benefits of medical cannabis and give their consent to such treatment;
2.) the minor has a serious medical condition; and
3.) all conventional treatments have been tried unsuccessfully, or considered and rejected (e.g. because of probable unacceptable side effects), before recommending the use of medicinal cannabis.”
If you’ve made your way to this blog, I’m confident your family meets the above criteria no problem. And I especially appreciate the open-ended ways #2 and 3 were written (emphasis added).
If your child’s physician is giving you push back for exploring cannabis, you may choose to provide them with the above standard of care. However, it absolutely is their own professional responsibility to stay educated and well informed about relevant and current treatment options. If they aren’t willing to be curious with you, I’d strongly suggest networking with in our parent community to find a physician progressive enough to work with your trailblazing family. It’s actually inappropriate for us parents to have to bring them along. However, it can be very empowering and comforting for parents to know the specific ways they are protected by California state law. Because you are.
Thank you for your ongoing support Dr. Bonni!