“‘Do as I say, not as I do.” One of parent’s biggest contradictions. This has been a common theme when a parent is speaking to their child regarding those social evils: smoking, drinking, sex, or the use of legal or illegal drugs. Parent’s neural networks in their brains have imprinted the way they think about and process these topics.
As parents, we formulate these norms (neural network) in our social discord as normal. That is—until we have children—then the dichotomy becomes a moral dilemma which requires true
reprogramming in our prefrontal cortex where the neural network lives. Yes, parenting 102 needs to be upgraded to parenting 404 when your children start asking you about sex, drinking and drug use. And you, as the parent, must get to this neural network upgrade on these 2021 issues before these burning questions are answered by your child’s public-at-large instead of you. If that happens, you have lost control of the information that helps to make up this neural network of differentiation and good luck.
This will take some retraining of the brain and updating the parent’s neural intake of good current information, and this will take some effort on your part as a parent when it comes to the subject of cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that used to be taboo!
The ECS is a biological system that was discovered in 1992. It took a 30-year sojourn from the encapsulation of CBD and THC, starting in the 1960s, to put all the pieces together to formalize this ECS.
For the purpose of this discussion, we are only going to be talking about CBD and its known effects on the ECS. The latter, THC, is a discussion for later. And, yes, kids need CBD, too. What is important is that it was young children with seizures who helped to break down the common stigma around CBD. The FDA has recently approved one CBD cannabis formulation for childhood seizures, but there is much more to be understood.
CBD is one of 140 different cannabinoids known to the Cannabis sativa L plant. This plant in America came under a great degree of scrutiny for a lot of different reasons in the mid-1930s. Some of it was economics, some of it was politics, and some of it was just downright wrong.
CBD is a cannabinoid that helps to regulate the ECS that all animals and mammals have which helps to control a number of bodily functions. It was Charlotte’s Web, a cannabis formulation, used in a child with severe seizures that was probably the single most responsible event which helped to reverse the negative neural imprint on our prefrontal cortex, which formulates our opinions and attitudes on Cannabis sativa L.
The ECS is a neurotransmission system that works towards homeostasis. Homeostasis is critically important in the whole biological makeup of the human genome balance. If cells get out of balance, they can cause a proliferation or increase in certain hormones whether it be thyroid disease from overproduction or under production of thyroid stimulating hormone, or diseases like gout, that can have a multitude of different pathological mechanisms by producing too much uric acid or not getting rid of enough uric acid that can cause disease. Regulation of apoptosis is one of these regulatory components which is believed to be affected by the ECS.
It is important to understand that the human body has an endogenous source of cannabinoids that it makes for the body’s regulatory homeostasis. We must understand that the human body and its ECS makes a certain amount of endogenous cannabinoids known as an anandamide and 2 AG. However, these endogenous cannabinoids do not go into storage but are made on demand. It is essential that we get enough cannabinoids from an outside or known exogenous source known as Cannabis sativa L. This is critical for a parent to learn about this age old botanical and all the things it can do and does do for you and your family. This is just the tip of the informational iceberg to start retraining your family’s brain.
FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT
When did you take your first drink of alcohol? Was it inside the home or not? When did you light up your first cigarette? And, where was that done? Drugs and drug use took on a much greater leap because of the illegality and the public persona. Until 1970, marijuana (Cannabis) was not a federal crime, but that changed with the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA added cannabis to a list of Schedule one drugs that became a federal drug crime. This stigma for cannabis was captured in the subsequent “War on Drugs“, which has victimized way too many of our youth.
This single addition of cannabis added to the CSA criminalized many of our youth for several generations up to the present which was more consequential than tobacco and alcohol use in the teen years of the previous generations up to the present. In 2018, there were approximately 1.8 million drug offenses in the United States. Of that number, 660,000 were because of the cannabis plant, and an overwhelming number of this populous was young black and brown people.
It took 25 years, from 1970 to 1995, for California to become the first state in the United States to allow for cannabis to be used as an alternative and compassionate medical program. This medical program was in opposition to “Big Pharma” who for years have tried to replicate nature’s formula without success.
From 1995 to the present, Cannabis has slowly crept across America, first as medical alternative programs, and now to recreational approval in many states in 2021, to soon-to-be Federal legalization.
What have we learned in this 25-year span of alternative medicine in the use of cannabis? We have learned that it is truly not a Schedule one drug, but it has many defined medicinal uses. We also have learned that a bodily system depends on the phytocannabinoids from this plant to help supplement and balance the ECS. Cannabis and CBD, because of the Schedule I status, has not received the research attention needed to validate medical efficacy. It was not recognized because of the illegality that had been forced onto this botanical plant since the “Marijuana Tax Act of 1937”.
In 1999, four researchers at The National Institutes of Health (NIH) applied for a patent for CBD as a neuroproliferative, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory agent with great potential benefits. It took until 2003 before this patent was granted. This patent to this day is held by the Department of Health & Human Services but was very little publicized until the most recent rage of CBD. In short, the United States has a long and unfavorable history with the Cannabis sativa plant further propagated by “Big Pharma”.
It is important to let your children know that you are in favor of medical equality, and you respect the choices that need to be made in order to manage one’s health. It has been documented that children with various disorders, like those of the autistic spectrum and apparent physical differences, are at increased risk of being bullied. Pay close attention to your child to make sure that your child is not the aggressor, and support your child if they need to work through personal feelings about their peers. If your child is the patient, be sure to not only pay attention to their medical needs, but consider their social needs in relation to how cannabis might play a role in the balance of their neurotransmission system.
In the same way your child may need support in dealing with his/her feelings, you have feelings about cannabis therapy that are a product of the current state of social acceptance or are based on basic rejection because of your neural network history. If you find that you are not comfortable discussing the cannabis plant, connect with other parents and teachers to discuss and validate your feelings in order to develop a shared understanding of what you know and what you don’t know. Your school nurse may be able to facilitate these conversations to ensure that they remain factual and evidence-based.
What should parents know about CBD and what do your children know about CBD? There are children who benefit from therapeutic cannabis intake. In these children, it is not necessarily the exception; but, when they get to school, they become an outlier. School attendance is the big social platform where children start which is important for their social interaction. It is for this reason that you must equip your child today with good evidence-based information because, oh wow, that fast moving “social network” can spread disinformation, misinformation and lies about, drinking, sex and drugs that may have great medicinal benefits. So, parents, you must first retrain your brain on the topic of the Cannabis sativa L plant.
Ashley Wynn-Grimes, MS, RN-BC, LSSBB
Eric I. Mitchell, MD MA FACPE CPE