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Why was Cannabis Prescribed to a 4 Year-old with Behaviour Issues?


Medicinal Cannabis is becoming commonplace in the United States and is now starting to see traction in the UK too. Whilst the benefits of Cannabis are clear in some instances, was it right for a doctor in California to prescribe cannabis to a four year-old?

A doctor in California is attempting to fight for his license after prescribing cannabis cookies to a four-year-old boy. Dr William Eidelman is a physician in the natural medicines who said that small doses of cannabis would help control the boys temper tantrums. However, the doctor misdiagnosed the child as having bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder. The Medical Board of California ruled to revoke the doctor’s licence but the physician has fought back to appeal.

Is it right to prescribe a drug like cannabis to a four year-old? It’s medicinal advantages are quite clear, though are we culturally ready for this?

However, the board didn’t look to revoke the license due to the cannabis prescription as this is legal in the state of California when it comes to medicinal purposes. Dr Eidelman was investigated due to being “negligent in his care and treatment”. He had failed to consult a psychiatrist in the case of communicating with the school.

Positive effect

As reported by the BBC, the child’s father consulted the doctor in 2012 because his son was playing up in school. The doctor had recommended small amounts of the drug which was revealed when the school nurse was asked to give the boy his cannabis cookies at lunchtime. When the father was young, he had ADHD and bipolar disorder which had a negative experience with prescribed medications at the time saying that he felt like a “human guinea pig.”

“He started using marijuana later in life, saying it helped ‘calm him’ and changed his behaviour towards his wife, towards whom he had previously ‘exhibited anger’. The father had previously obtained the drug for his older son, who had also been diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder.”

In addition, the boy’s father said that it had a positive effect on both of his children. Dr Eidelman has appealed against the ruling which was made on January 4th and says that he will continue to practise. His lawyers said he had won a suspension of the revocation following a future hearing. Medical cannabis use has been legal in the state since 1996 and as the doctor says, he has recommended the drug to thousands of patients.

Ethical Considerations

It isn’t wrong to prescribe cannabis derived products, here in the UK we are finally starting to see children prescribed with cannabis based drugs to help ease symptoms of neurological problems, however, cannabis edibles are far more potent with clearer side effects, therefore the ethical implications of this should be considered, as a society in the UK, we need to see further education roll out in this sector and we need our doctors to be talking about cases like this, so we too can follow up with more active laws that allow for medicinal cannabis use.


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