Determining the Efficacy of Medical Marijuana for Children and Adolescents Diagnosed with ADHD


  1. Marijuana use and ADHD

Over the last decades, however, since the state of California first endorsed and passed a proposition, legalizing marijuana for medical purposes over two decades ago, medical marijuana has increasingly received positive reviews gunning significant state and public support. Cannabis, as it is known for its medicinal purpose, has been approved in 33 states as of November 2018, and is primarily used to treat symptoms associated with chronic and mental illnesses.

Thesis Statement. With the improvement of technology, the efficiencies of Marijuana as a medicament for mental health issues has become comprehensive; however, of having children or young adults use it for therapeutic purpose is complex to say the least; however, upon research it seems to have great prospect to it.

  1. The primary issue when writing their paper is the fact that Marijuana is a controlled substance that is known to have adverse side effects on the users thus it being considered illegal. The idea of having it as a treatment to underdeveloped brains is a problem. The influence of medical marijuana or cannabis has growingly become a topic of widespread debate as the modern society as well as governments begin to endorse legislature towards the legalization or decriminalizing the sale of the substance. Although Marijuana has existed in the United States al through the American Revolution as a refuse product of the hemp trade. It was not until the end of the 19th century when Mexican immigrants developed the culture of recreational use of marijuana. Like opiates as well as other drugs of cocaine, cannabis was available both from pharmacies as well as over the counter drug dispensaries. Nevertheless, the cultural shift of Prohibition, states in America began criminalization marijuana; consequently, by 1925, 26 states had legislations barring its sale.
  2. In light of improved medical technology Marijuana can be made safe for consumption for young minds. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the primary unique chemical compounds that is found in cannabis; unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is known to have non-psychoactive characteristics. Over the recent past, CBD compounds have been isolated, extracted, tested, and marketed as their substances of their own that may help treat particular medical conditions such as depression and anxiety. In actuality, CBS’s lack of psychoactive properties makes the substance a versatile substance as compared to THC and safer to use considering it has minimal side effects. For these reasons, Cannabis has become a sought to s for mental illnesses; however, there is an ethical and medical boundary that may be broken when it comes to treating children suffering from Deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with CBD.
  3. The paper will examine the issue, by using literature reviews as well as proven results from other animal as well as human tests to provide a solution for the project problem.
  4. Research Problems

Unlike pharmaceuticals, relatively few clinical trials have been conducted on the medicinal use of marijuana leading to a lack of knowledge in the potential health benefits or harm as well as correct dosing and potency levels. The notion of having Marijuana considered as an efficient therapeutic solution for children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD. In adolescents, marijuana has been linked with higher tendencies of decreased academic performance leading to dropping out of school. According to Zoega et al., Marijuana causes a drop in IQ over time (22). With this in mind the notion of having the drug used as a therapeutic option may be considered unethical and dangerous.

  1. Research Objectives

Mental health and its significance on the global burden of disease has gradually gained   renewed focus of public health interest. Generally, mental health illnesses have been given a high priority in the health industry, with little funding being allocated for the study and treatment of behavioral health disease. Prevalence as well as incidence rates for mental health illnesses have been hard to obtain because in part to a lack of reporting in addition to little to no mental health resources review provided to diagnose or treat psychiatric diseases. The objective of the research is to provide credible and a realistic premise of how Marijuana can be used as a therapeutic medicament for children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD

  1. Background Information
  1. ADHD has become a growing concern in the modern society as more individuals have fallen victim to lack of treatment, therefore a medical solution is significantly needed.  Deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has long thought to be a disorder limited to children as well as adolescents. Nevertheless, studies such as that of Levy et al., have proven that ADHD symptoms may persist into adulthood. Persons suffering from ADHD symptomatically have an augmented drive to move around as well as unable to calm down for long periods ( Additionally, they are do not easily follow schedules in their day-to-day activities thus; it is complex to assess the impact of their decisions. Because of their reduced aptitude to organize activities, they frequently have a poor short-term memory and easily forgetful and tend to work chaotically or inefficiently. Emotionally, individuals suffering from ADHD are susceptible to impulsive outbursts, excessiveness, and significantly unstable (Zoega et al., 32). For children identifying these behaviors may not be easy because of the natural hyperactivity and having trouble focusing or behaving at particular stages in their childhood is considered normal. Considering the aforementioned then it becomes apparent that the use of marijuana on an emotionally unstable patient may not be recommended.
  1. Currently, there are drugs that are used to manage ADHD symptoms such as Ruthin; however, most patients have complained of its side effects. For this reason, marijuana is currently being considered as a therapeutic alternative.


  1. Problem 1. Marijuana’s most knonw and studied chemical element delta-9- tetrahydrocannabino, also known as THC. As indicated by Pedersen, THC is a psychoactive chemical that has a significant influence on the mind as well as the body; it is responsible for giving users a high (44). THC affects the cannabinoid receptors in the brain when it initiation through the bloodstream. Prolonged cannabis use can lead to physical dependence as well as withdrawal symptoms after discontinuation. As presented by Zoega et al recent studies on drug addiction have indicated that marijuana is more addictive than previously believed considering that 9% of cannabis users becoming significantly dependent at some point in their lifetime (66). Marijuana use has additionally been linked to physical symptoms in addition to disease. Like smoking, marijuana use leads is a source of increased risk of cancers of the head, neck, lungs, as well as the respiratory tract because to the carcinogens and toxins inhaled during use.
  2. Problem 2. Marijuana Impact on the BrainOver the recent past a large number of animal tests focused on the direct influence that cannabis has on the brain as well as neurological system through the dopamine pathways have been on the increase. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that has an influence movement, motivation, reward, as well as addiction. Most addictive drug use increases dopamine in the brain or floods the dopamine pathways in addition to engaging the pleasure seniors thus influencing a positive feedback loop. The available studies on the influence of cannabis on the release of dopamine in the human brain do not give conclusive answers. This is the second problem that is currently plaguing the premise of using Marijuana as a therapeutic drug for Children and Adolescents Diagnosed with ADHD.
  1. Theories helping to understand as well as solve the issue.
  1. As aforementioned with the improvements in technology CBDs can be extracted and used safely. Any discussion about the effects of marijuana on mental health would not be considered complete without an overview of complexities in specifying marijuana effects on patients. Dissimilar to methamphetamine, cannabis is not a single chemical compound substance. Marijuana as a plant is composed of about 500 chemical substances. As indicated by Pedersen it is believed that only a fraction of cannabis has been studied extensively (51). Generally, it is comprehended that the psychotropic substance in cannabis is chiefly the reason behind its intoxicating effects is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). A 2016 study by Hennessey et al., showed that other 100 other compounds have been recognized in cannabis that is chemically linked to THC, known as cannabinoids (CBDs) (112). As explained by Levy et al., cannabinoids exert their effects through the fairly recently discovered endocannabinoid system ( Only since the late 1980s has it been stated that humans, as well as other mammals, have cannabinoid receptors throughout their entire body as well as endogenous cannabinoids that manage the effects of neurotransmitters in addition to other cellular mechanisms in a way that is not comprehensively understood so far. The aforementioned facts have generated a significant amount of interest as potential targets for therapeutic drug development, particularly mental health remedies. Of the recognized cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, CB1 is has a significant effect in the brain as well as the central nervous system (CNS). On the other hand, CB2 has a much lower register in the CNS; however, it has a high in peripheral immune cells as well as other neural tissues. Psychoactive influences of cannabis are primarily attributed to CB1 receptors while CB2 receptors are non-psychoactive.

III. Propose Solution 1

  1. Clinical as well anecdotal proof suggest a progressively popular perception form social as well as medical field in regards to the use of marijuana as a therapeutic aid for ADHD because of better extraction of CB1. As explained by Zoega et al when it comes to ADHD and marijuana there are a number of disproportionate comments supporting the therapeutic use over harmful effects of cannabis for ADHD particularly when it comes to improving the general quality of life for a patient (112). Comments extolling the therapeutic properties of marijuana for ADHD largely indicated to improvement in inattentive symptoms and not indications of hyperactivity or impulsivity. The results also showed that there were a number of cases where the use of marijuana was thought to be “medicinal” or authorized by healthcare providers. The findings also showed that individuals seeking information regarding influence of marijuana on ADHD would find data on Internet forums partial toward cannabis improving ADHD that is not directly linked to what is found in the medical as well as research literature. Amusingly, a qualitative research study of marijuana users conducted in Norway, where marijuana use is illegal, found that a significant part of the sample population reported that they used cannabis for what they believed to be as medical reasons, and self-diagnosed ADHD was most common. Traditional ADHD medication such as Rutlin was described as having several  more negative effects as compared to Cannabis. The use of marijuana was perceived as reducing symptoms linked to self-diagnosed ADHD, and these effects were seen as proof for the validity of the self-diagnosis. Using cannabis medicinally for self-diagnosed ADHD was considered less stigmatizing than using it for intoxication and recreation. With this in mind it can be  argued that the use of marijuana is less stigmatizing and more progressive in terms of medical since. ADHD is not specifically stated as a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card in the United Sates that allow for medicinal use of cannabis primarily because there are reports by physicians sjowig how marijuana can have negative neurocognitive effects on the user.  As explained by (Hennessey et al., marijuana can cause decreased concentration, irritability, and anxiety after prolonged use (144). It has been noted that even where there  exists some good quality evidence beneficial effects of medical marijuana or cannabinoids there exists certain conditions in adult patients, may be generalized as the evidence to children and adolescents vulnerability of the developing brain to environmental toxins.
  2. Weakness of the solution. The information that is presented on the issue of using CB1 and CB2 as solutions is only theoretical. The clinical trials that have been used for the information provided have been based on animal tests only.
  1. Proposed solution 2.

From the information presented in the paper it is clear that the impact of recreational doses of recreational cannabis use does not release large amounts of dopamine into the brain. A systematic review examined several studies on the influence marijuana has on dopaminergic signaling in the human brain. While some researches have indicated that the active agent of cannabis, THC, is linked with increased levels of dopamine in the brain, some have made conclusion that is limited influence from marijuana use on dopamine pathways. With this, I mind it can be argued that there is a need into the actual influences of cannabis has on the human brain thus concluding the conflicting stated.

  1. Conclusions

In summary, the notion of having children diagnosed with ADHD self-medicate with marijuana might first seem absurd considering it is a controlled substance that for years has been considered a gateway drug. The purpose of this thesis is to assess the relationship between early onset marijuana use on the children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD. Both Cannabis and ADHD are associated with deficits in cognition. ADHD is associated with impaired attention, inhibition, in addition to executive function. Marijuana on the other hand is also known to cause impairments in attention as well as inhibition, and executive function among other cognitive impairments. Thus, one would expect the influence of marijuana to exacerbate symptoms of ADHD and not improve them. Nonetheless, from the information provided in the paper this is far from the case. CBD particularly CB1 has t demonstrated that it has the ability to changed change brain chemistry thus limiting the symptoms of ADHD. Conversely, despite widespread theoretical research indicating that marijuana has medicinal benefits for ADHD, there does exist virtually no clinical study to support this belief. The only aspect that has had clinical trial shows that that those with ADHD are susceptible to developing cannabis use disorders. With the current scarcity of data, marijuana may not be a safe treatment of ADHD at this time. At best, it might be recommended as a final therapeutic measure when all other conventional treatments have failed.


Works Cited

Pedersen, Willy. “From badness to illness: Medical cannabis and self-diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Addiction Research & Theory 23.3 (2015): 177-186.

Levy, Sharon, Slavica K. Katusic, Robert C. Colligan, Amy L. Weaver, Jill M. Killian, Robert G. Voigt, and William J. Barbaresi. “Childhood ADHD and risk for substance dependence in adulthood: a longitudinal, population-based study.” PloS one 9, no. 8 (2014): e105640.

Hennessey, K. A., Stein, M. D., Rosengard, C., Rose, J. S., & Clarke, J. G. (2010). Childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance use, and adult functioning among incarcerated women. Journal of attention disorders14(3), 273-280.

Zoega, Helga, Karl Furu, Matthias Halldorsson, Per Hove Thomsen, Andre Sourander, and Jaana E. Martikainen. “Use of ADHD drugs in the Nordic countries: a population‐based comparison study.” Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 123, no. 5 (2011): 360-367.