Article by Richard Cowan.
It seems to be generally accepted that the human brain does not fully mature until we are at least 25. (85 in my case) That would have the effect of making marijuana legalization unworkable. But that does not stop the medical profession from giving children psychiatric drugs.
In 1998 the Los Angeles Times carried an incredible story, California Caretakers “Routinely Drug Foster Children”
It was as horrible as it sounds.
“Children under state protection in California group and foster homes are being drugged with potent, dangerous psychiatric medications, at times just to keep them obedient and docile for their overburdened caretakers.
A review of hundreds of confidential court files and prescription records, observations at group homes as well as interviews with judges, attorneys, child welfare workers and doctors across the state, revealed that youngsters are being drugged in combinations and dosages that experts in psychiatric medication say are risky–and can cause irreversible harm.
In part because of a lack of oversight, officials responsible for the children’s welfare say they don’t know how many of the state’s 100,000 foster children are being given mood-altering medications, many of which have never been tested for use on children.
In Los Angeles County–which has nearly half the state’s foster children–dependency court judges last year approved requests to medicate about 4,500 kids. That doesn’t include those drugged with parental consent or those drugged with no consent at all, which experts believe is a significant problem. In addition, a county grand jury found in 1997 that nearly half the group home children it examined were drugged without court or parental consent.
Experts from around the state said widespread drugging, both with and without legal approval, occurs in other California counties as well.
“We sometimes don’t know who put kids on drugs and why,” said Nathan Nishimoto, an Orange County Department of Children and Family Services official who, until recently, was in charge of tracking children in the county’s care.
There’s the 5-year-old boy in a Tustin group home who was not only being given an antipsychotic, but massive doses of Ritalin and clonidine–though researchers from UCI and UCLA have published articles reporting that that combination has caused sudden death and heart problems in some children.
There’s the 8-year-old foster child in San Francisco County on Cylert for his hyperactivity, despite warnings from the drug’s manufacturer that its use can lead to liver failure and death in children. The boy did not receive the requisite blood checks to monitor the drug in his system.
At the Orangewood Children’s Home in Orange County, kids as young as 3 skip up to the drug cart several times a day, to take the “meds” that control their “depression” and “rage.” To say nothing of the scores of California teenagers prescribed pills to battle manias and psychoses with little explanation of why or by whom.”
The problem did not get any better. In 2015, the New York Times reported, “Still in a Crib, Yet Being Given Antipsychotics”.
It begins with an anecdote, that now would have an added layer of irony.
“Andrew Rios’s seizures began when he was 5 months old and only got worse. At 18 months, when an epilepsy medication resulted in violent behavior, he was prescribed the antipsychotic Risperdal, a drug typically used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults, and rarely used for children as young as 5 years.
When Andrew screamed in his sleep and seemed to interact with people and objects that were not there, his frightened mother researched Risperdal and discovered that the drug was not approved, and had never even been studied, in children anywhere near as young as Andrew.”
Today, Andrew would be given CBD, either bought over the counter or as Epiodelex, a prescription drug. Well, maybe.
His situation was not unique. The Times reported that “Almost 20,000 prescriptions for risperidone (commonly known as Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel) and other antipsychotic medications were written in 2014 for children 2 and younger, a 50 percent jump from 13,000 just one year before, according to the prescription data company IMS Health. Prescriptions for the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) rose 23 percent in one year for that age group, to about 83,000.”
In 2015 Directscience.com published a study, “Preliminary findings demonstrating latent effects of early adolescent marijuana use onset on cortical architecture”
It was summarized by the Center for Brain Health at the University of Dallas: Starting Age of Marijuana Use May Have Long-Term Effects on Brain Development
“The research team analyzed MRI scans of 42 heavy marijuana users; twenty participants were categorized as early onset users with a mean age of 13.18and 22 were labeled as late onset users with a mean age of 16.9. According to self-reports, all participants, ages 21-50, began using marijuana during adolescence and continued throughout adulthood, using cannabis at least one time per week.”
Findings show study participants who began using marijuana at the age of 16 or younger demonstrated brain variations that indicate arrested brain development in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for judgment, reasoning and complex thinking. Individuals who started using marijuana after age 16 showed the opposite effect and demonstrated signs of accelerated brain aging.”
Of course, this does not necessarily mean that using marijuana at sixteen will make your brain more mature. However, considering that children are being given psychiatric drugs at a very early age by the doctors who are telling us that marijuana is bad for them…
Makes you wonder.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of Everything You Need to Know About CBD Topicals.