Cannabis for the treatment of paediatric epilepsy? An update for Canadian paediatricians
The plant Cannabis sativa produces over 140 known cannabinoids. These chemicals generate considerable interest in the medical research community for their possible application to several intractable disease conditions. Recent reports have prompted parents to strongly consider Cannabis products to treat their children with drug resistant epilepsy. Physicians, though, are reluctant to prescribe Cannabis products due to confusion about their regulatory status and limited clinical data supporting their use. We provide the general paediatrician with a brief review of cannabinoid biology, the literature regarding their use in children with drug resistant epilepsy, the current Health Canada and Canadian Paediatric Society recommendations and also the regulations from the physician regulatory bodies for each province and territory. Given the complexities of conducting research on Cannabis products for children with epilepsy, we also discuss outstanding research objectives that must be addressed to support Cannabis products as an accepted treatment option for children with refractory epilepsy.