Doctors should not prescribe medical marijuana to teens with chronic pain, say researchers at the Mayo Clinic. Marijuana can lead to some negative short-term side effects, including impaired concentration, fatigue and slower reaction times, they write in a commentary in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
There is a lack of information on the risks and benefits of medical marijuana for teens, Dr. J. Michael Bostwick argues. “The consequences may be very, very severe, particularly for adolescents who may get rid of their pain — or not — at the expense of the rest of their life,” he said in a news release.
Dr. Bostwick says marijuana use before age 16 has been linked to earlier development of psychosis in susceptible patients. Smoking marijuana more than once a week has been connected to persistent cognitive damage in adolescents, he wrote. An estimated one in 10 marijuana users becomes addicted, and people under 25 are more susceptible, according to the commentary.
CBS News notes marijuana may be beneficial for people with medical conditions, by improving mood, reducing pain and increasing appetite. A poll of doctors published last month found 76 percent say they would approve of the use of medical marijuana to treat pain in an older woman with advanced breast cancer.
Dr. Bostwick recommends that teens with chronic pain should be screened for marijuana use, and should be offered alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, biofeedback and physical therapy.
Medical marijuana is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia with a doctor’s prescription.