• Fri, Feb 14 - 2:30 pm ET

You’re Missing The Marijuana For Kids Trend If You Don’t Live In Colorado

weedI lived in Colorado Springs and Denver for seven years after high school with my family. I ended up moving back to my hometown in Texas to live with my now-husband six years ago. Apparently, Colorado was just waiting for me to leave because they advanced leaps and bounds in marijuana legalization the moment I stepped foot out of the state.

The new laws don’t apply to me per se because I’ve never smoked marijuana myself. I’ve been around it plenty of times and have had my share of alcohol, but maybe it was because of the whole “drugs are bad” concept that I never indulged.

Today’s marijuana industry in Colorado has become a family affair—specifically, medical marijuana. The number of children and young adults on the medical marijuana registry in Colorado greatly increased in 2013, based on state Department of Public Health and Environment data.

At the end of 2013, there were 199 individuals registered under the age of 18. This is compared to 37 registered minors in 2012:

“Parents are also coming to Colorado in search of one of the most coveted strains of medical marijuana available. “Charlotte’s Web” — which is high in CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in pot, and low in THC, which causes users to feel “high” — was developed by Denver’s Realm of Caring non-profit group and has been effectively treating children with debilitating illnesses and conditions.”

I have to be honest in saying that it’s really hard for me to wrap my mind around legal, normal marijuana, even though I’m not against it at all. I’ve just had the “Don’t Do Drugs” message crammed down my throat that has given me some kind of Pavlovian response against even touching the stuff.

I don’t have anything judgy to say about children using medical marijuana in Colorado because their stories of recovery are touching and wonderful. I’d have mixed feelings about using the drug if my kids needed it, related to the preconceived notions I’ve already described, but I know I could get over it if their health was on the line.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • Crusty Socks

    Well, when it comes to terminally sick people (children in particular), all forms of medicine is on the table as far as I’m concerned…

    unless it’ll turn them into zombies

    • Bethany Ramos

      I am 100% against zombie medicine.

  • Momma425

    I live in Washington- I wonder if kids in WA are getting “herbal medicine” as well. I bet they are.
    I’ve heard stories about how it works wonders- I personally have never used for strictly medical purposes, so I can’t say. I don’t know how I feel about it for kids though.

    • Bunny Lucia

      I don’t know about Washington, but they had a news story possibly a year ago out here in Oregon about this little seven year old who had cancer and her chemo made her so sick she couldn’t eat and would start losing her strength, but some oil that had marijuanna in it made her well enough to eat and she was getting better.

  • K.

    I have a similar knee-jerk reaction to you (Hel-lo 1980s D.A.R.E!).

    But then I realized that there’s probably more research that’s been done on marijuana than on pretty much all of the prescription drugs I take already.

    And that frankly, some of the research that’s been done on pills I take is creepier than anything I’ve read on marijuana. Ambien, anyone?

    • elle

      Ha ha I have so many ambien horror stories it isn’t even funny. And weaning off it is no joke either (hello rebound insomnia). So i totally agree with you. Also I know it’s OT (and I hope it works cuz I’m on a tablet) but I don’t think that’s stopped anyone ever on this site and it cracks me up every time so: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_IYdmIS_Ufds/TQavuS6pIBI/AAAAAAAAAFk/wzf7lPym_RM/s1600/ambien-walrus-and-the-cookies.gif

    • K.

      ^ this is hilarious.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Oh, Ambien. I almost miss you… almost.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I am very against medication for myself when I can help it, but this thread has gotten my thinking, in comparison, marijuana doesn’t look too bad.

    • NYCNanny

      Same here. I’m pretty against medicating myself.. my headache has to be really bad for me to pop some aspirin. That being said… I started to smoke pot when I was 19 and my period cramps turned AWFUL (think, passing out @ work on the tile floor, awful.) Pot is the ONLY thing that helps and I’m grateful for that. Way better for you than chemical pain killers ever 4-6 hours.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Wow – so glad you found something that worked!

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      D.A.R.E was still around when I was in elementary school, though even then, my friends and I thought it was risible. I will also say that under Ambien, my dad once neatly cut through and ate half a pecan pie, then put the lid back on and tried to blame the dogs the next day, whereas he simply eats the half of the pecan pie and owns it while high.

    • K.

      And I just learned a new word–”risible.” Cool beans.

      Gosh, I was in like, maybe 2nd grade when D.A.R.E. came around and I think they had me convinced for way too long that if you so much as looked a joint, the next stop was crack-whore.

      They should’ve bothered more about cigarettes, imho.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Dude, DARE was such a fuckin’ crock. Thanks, Officer Friendly, for teaching us how to navigate the seedy underworld of the drug trade! And thanks, Neighbourhood Dealers, for teaching us the metric system!

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      Yay! You made my inner English teacher and outer stoner-who-really-gets-kick-out-of-Sesame-Street-while-stoned’s day!

      Funny, I don’t seem to remember cigarettes being much of a focus either. I mostly figured out they weren’t much good because I’d have an allergy attack every time I went out to the garage, which was my mom thought she was hiding her pack-a-day habit.

    • Jamie-tang

      My D.A.R.E. officer was actually arrested for trafficking narcotics and stealing things out of evidence in order to do that.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      I’m not surprised — they had (have) access to all the best shit.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Unreal!

  • My2bits

    We have a family friend who moved his entire family to Colorado just for medical marijuana for his son. He has a condition that causes him to have about 20 seizures a minute. Since starting the marijuana, the seizures have declined to about one every 6 or 7 minutes. Sadly, the father is unable to work from Colorado, so the family is separated by about 1500 miles. He visits as often as he can, but obviously, it is far from ideal. I don’t know why so many states have their heads in the sand when it comes to the legalization of medical marijuana. So sad that there is such a stigma attached to it when there are plenty of other meds out there with stronger addictive nature and much worse side effects.
    Stepping off my soapbox now.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Omg heartbreaking!

    • CW

      The problem is that many states look to what happened in California, where anyone with a few hundred dollars can get a prescription. “Anxiety” is the typical B.S. reason given for folks who just want to be able to smoke pot on a recreational basis. It’s really too bad that the medical marijuana got so abused here in CA, because it’s scaring off a lot of states from having it available even to patients with serious diseases like cancer & seizure disorder.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      It was like that in CO before January 1 too, only here, it was “headaches.” It got so bad that even staunch anti-drug conservatives wrote editorials for the Denver Post, saying, “This system is a joke. Let’s just legalize it for recreational use already.” I think for a lot of states, it’s also the stigma attached to pot being generally thought of as the drug of hippies, even though a lot of the pro-pot voters here are former military and Libertarians.

    • Muggle

      And this is why I have SO much of an issue with pro-legalization people going on about the medical benefits. Okay, fine, it has good benefits. How many of these idiots actually USE it for medical reasons?

      I’ve heard about so many people getting bogus prescriptions for MMJ for stupid, bullshit reasons that I’m absolutely disgusted with anyone who uses in recreationally but only talks about how it’s a cure for everything.

      As much as I hate supporting these assholes, I’m just throwing in the towel and hoping it gets legalized for recreational use, for everyone over 18.

    • Bunny Lucia

      Wait a minute, what?

      People with anxiety were given pot?

      I don’t know if this has been studied, but everyone I know who has generalized anxiety disorder has had HORRIBLE side effects from Marijuana.

      Granted, that’s only three people. But still, three out of three.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Funny, because I’m anxious as fuck — as in, legitimately medicated for it with pills — and I’ve never had a weed-induced panic attack.

    • Bunny Lucia

      Like I said, not scientific.

      I also take pills for anxiety and weed makes me feel like I’m dying. So each person’s body chemistry and blah blah

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Fair enough.

    • libraryofbird

      There have been some amazing stories of certain strains of MMJ grown for childern suffering from seizures, the dramatic change that can happen is so wonderful to see. I hope your friends family is having success.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Am I reading that right? 20 seizures a minute?! I’ve worked with a few kids with seizures before but have never heard of anything that frequent. Do you know what the condition is called or what kind of seizures they are?

  • Elisa Probert

    I use to be totally against anyone using marijuana for any reason. Then an elderly friend hurt her back, and painkillers just made her sick and offered no relief. Finally, desperate, she tried marijuana even though she’d always thought of it as an eeeevil drug. A few days later she came up to me, giddy, and announced that she could FINALLY sleep again and work in her garden.

    If it could give that old lady her life back, it can’t be all that bad.

  • pixie

    I used to, still do sometimes, have the same gut reaction as you. I have smoked it before, but I’ve had the message of “don’t do drugs, they’re bad” message ingrained in me for so long that it’s sometimes hard to let go of (not by my parents, but by school and the media). That being said, I fully support medicinal marijuana because I saw how fantastic it works when a close friend had leukaemia. It helped with his nausea while going through chemo and increased his appetite so he didn’t lose too much weight.

  • CW

    I am not a fan AT ALL of recreational marijuana, though I do actually think possessing small amounts for personal use should be legal. Cigarettes and alcohol are legal, and the cost to taxpayers for the criminal justice system treating pot the same way as heroin, cocaine, and other hard drugs is enormous. That said, I would absolutely consider using medical-grade marijuana to treat a *SERIOUS* medical condition (like cancer or seizure disorder), either in myself or a child. To me, it’s like using Oxycontin or another prescription painkiller- there are legitimate medical reasons in certain cases.

    • NYCNanny

      Weed is NOT just like OXY, sorry. It’s WAY less harmful, less addictive, more natural, doesn’t knock you out like a zombie, etc…

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      Yeah, maybe it’s different for some people, but why I prefer weed to narcotics is because the former knocks me out and leaves me feeling refreshed and rarin’ to go the next day, while prescription painkillers (hydrocodone in particular) knock me out and leave me groggy for a full day afterward. Hypocrite that I am, I’m still reluctant to condone handing anything that strong out to minors, but especially as a nonparent, I’m definitely not going to police people who are trying to do what’s right for their families.

  • Tinyfaeri

    Medicine is medicine, and unlike alcohol or tobacco, marijuana does have medicinal applications such as increasing appetite, reducing nausea, and relieving pain (among others). If a doctor will prescribe it to a child, and it will help mitigate symptoms from chemo, seizures, or other ailments and treatments, I say go for it.

    • Armchair Observer

      Alcohol does have medicinal applications, but they are ones we’ve found (or created) better (or at least more sophisticated) medicines/chemical for: antiseptic, anesthetic, and analgesic uses, to be specific.

    • moonie27

      I am infinitely grateful that I don’t have to use alcohol for surgeries.
      Tequila has never been my friend.

  • Jessica Johnson

    I’d be more likely to let my doctor prescribe pot to my kids than some drug that’s only been on the market a short while. Growing up with semi-hippy parents (and Dad later in life became a drug counselor), and being, um… “familiar” with the drug myself, I have a pretty good idea of the side effects (hungry, happy, sleepy mostly.). Maybe I wouldn’t let the kids smoke it, (as a cigarette smoker I also know that inhaling smoke from anything on fire ain’t great for your lungs) but compressed into gel caps, or baked into brownies or other delivery methods I’d be fine with.

  • NotTakenNotAvailable

    Oh goody. I’m just waiting for the backlash on this one–”As soon as Colorado legalized marijuana, it was suddenly okay for kids to use it!” I cannot wait to read the inevitable pearl-clutching to come.

    As far as the actual issue that will surely be overlooked, however, I’ve read several articles about parents who were in dire straits trying to treat their kids’ illnesses. One that stuck with me was a mom who wrote a series for Slate about giving her autistic son weed brownies, as they drastically tempered his mood swings. Personally, as someone with Asperger’s, I’ve found that pot brings out some of the traits I’ve managed to suppress in daily life, but then again, I also try to avoid going to business meetings stoned in general. Whatever works for individual families!

  • Rachel Sea

    Like any prescription drug, it will be abused, but the people abusing it were already using it, so what’s the difference? Legalization incentivizes growing strains that make people less stoned while alleviating their symptoms, so in time medical marijuana and recreational will be very different.

  • MamaLlama

    I work with a child who suffers from juvenile Huntingtons Disease (if you Google it; be prepared to cry). In children, Huntingtons progresses much faster (2-5yrs life expectancy). He suffers from constant ichiness and nerve pain that mAkes him unable to sleep, wear some clothing, etc. He also has seizures. His mom is headed to CO when she gets approved for residency. I am completely in support of legal medicinal marijuana after seeing this little guy suffer.