Dr. Nancy   |  November 23, 2009

Medical pot for ADHD?

Nov. 23: Some doctors in California are now prescribing marijuana to teens to treat psychiatric conditions, including attention deficit disorders. Dr. Nancy Snyderman talks with psychologist Stephen Hinshaw and Robert Jacob of “Peace in Medicine.”

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and minors. there are some doctors in california who are now prescribing marijuana to teens to treat all kinds of disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or adhd. the letter of the law allows doctors and prescribers to give marijuana for "any illness for which marijuana provides relief." boy, that could be a long list. joining me now is steven hinchsaw and robert jacob , the executive director of piece in medicine, a community-based healing center. i want to thank you, both, for being with me. i, i think i'm going to start with you, robert, because i love seeing, i was fascinated by what you offered at the center, including marijuana that has been labeled, according to which strength you get, i guess. kryptonite, vudue daddy and another sign that says, keep out of reach of your mother.

>> yes.

>> doesn't sound like medicine, but sounds like a good time.

>> i think it's all medicine. you know, strain names are created by seed banks, similar to cherry timat tomato or beef steak tomato.

>> well, it's pretty catchy. i don't know if it's good marketing or just catchy. steven , what's your take?

>> as i was quoted yesterday in "the new york times" as saying this is probably one of the worst ideas of all time. adhd is a disorder marked by an attention disorganization and difficulty learning and forming memories. every study that's ever been done is thc the active ingredient in marijuana is a cognitive disordinizer and makes those functions even worse . the thought of giving these to minors and just doesn't make much sense.

>> to be fair. let's put a side by side of one of the most commonly prescribed medications ritalin because, as you said, the ability to concentrate is one issue. ritalin supposedly makes concentration easier, allows a child, an adolescent to organize thoughts. marijuana not knowen for improving concentration or the ability to sort of focus and, you know, the issues of insomnia and parallel concerns. steven , would you, if you look at the benefit of medicinal marijuana versus a prescription drug like ritalin , can you see an opening where one can be beneficial more than the other?

>> well, what we know is that there have been many hundreds of very well-controlled studies of not only ritalin and the generic or all the stimulants. they are evidence-based treatments for this condition. we just don't have that kind of evidence for marijuana. what's even more alarming is that the studies that have been done that have shown that kids in their early to mid-teen years that start smoking marijuana, if they have other risks like genetic vulnerability, this pushes them on the path towards psychosis and the schizophrenia symptoms. it may make them worse and could be quite dangerous. this is why i'm quite alarmed with this.

>> robert, to that point, easy for us to talk about anecdotes but a time when we're trying as healers to get our arms around numbers so we can be evidence based and stand up for what the data shows. when you treat teenagers anecdotally like this you don't have much science to stand on at all.

>> that's very true. not much science to stand on because the government has not released cannabis for the scientific studies .

>> what are you seeing as science? are you keeping records on who you're treating and what their outcomes are?

>> we do not. you know, we act similar to a pharmacy. we take medical cannabis recommendations from primary care physicians and from medical cannabis specialists and we fill those orders. we don't track them.

>> you allow the medication or the drugs to go out the door and then no one is really responsible for gathering the data and getting it back to anyone who's collecting research.

>> that's the responsibility of physicians in this national organizations that work on that like americans for safe access --

>> big hole in this idea, i have to say. thank you. i appreciate it. big