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Pot and kids: what are the benefits (and dangers) of using medical marijuana to treat epilepsy?

by AirTalk®

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One-ounce bags of medicinal marijuana are displayed at the Berkeley Patients Group March 25, 2010 in Berkeley, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Parents don’t typically encourage their young children to do drugs. But that’s now how Ray Mirzabegian thinks of it. His daughter is epileptic. As a young child, her seizures were growing more intense and much more frequent. Her mobility and speech development shut down.

“It was like hitting the mute button,” he told Time reporter Kate Pickert. Mirzabegian tried every kind of medication he could find.Then he heard about marijuana growers in Colorado who developed a strain that is high in cannaboids or CBD, thought to be the source of many of marijuana’s palliative effects, and low in THC, the chemical that gets you high. He sought a medical marijuana recommendation and began distilling the strain into an oil. His daughter’s seizures were dramatically reduced. He’s now the go-to person in California for parents who are seeking alternative treatments for their children -- often suffering from extreme cases of epilepsy.

How much research is there on the effect of pot on children? Is it worth the risk? What if the benefit was an entirely new course of treatment for kids who have trouble walking and talking and experience multiple seizures per day?

Guests:

Kate Pickert, Time reporter. Her recent article is “Medical Marijuana: Parents of Kids with Epilepsy Search for Cure.”

Ray Mirzabegian, owner of Realm of Care, sells distilled form of pot to treat childhood epilepsy. Began as a treatment for his daughter.

Dr. Eric A. Voth, MD., a doctor practicing internal medicine and pain specialist medicine in Kansas and Chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy. He has spent 35 years studying the effects of drugs and addiction

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