Medical marijuana has come a long way with 24 states (including D.C.) legalizing some form of the medicine. Recent polls have shown strong national support for legalizing medical marijuana, as well as a slimmer majority also favoring recreational marijuana. The states that have allowed recreational marijuana have all limited it to persons 21 years of age or older. Medical marijuana, on the other hand, generally do not have an age restriction and have shown dramatic results in treating some of the most severe forms of childhood diseases.
In fact, some of the very laws that allow medical marijuana are named after young children, such as Ga.’s Haleigh’s Hope Act named after 5 year old Haleigh Cox, whose stories have inspired lawmakers from around the country. Additionally, Charlotte’s Web, a form of medical marijuana, is named after 8 year old Charlotte Figi, whom many describe as “the girl who is changing medical marijuana laws across America.”
The media coverage on medical marijuana have mostly been about young children and their parents’ struggle to make the medicine legally available for their child and others. And about how cannabis has given new life to many children who were effectively non-functional prior to taking the medicine.
So when current polls show support for medical marijuana approaching high 80% in some states, it’s natural to assume that a large portion of the support for medical marijuana is driven by the desire to help suffering children. But the latest poll from University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health seems to show that there are other factors at play. Although a majority (63%) strongly or somewhat agree medical marijuana should be legal for adults, only 36% say it should be allowed for children.
We have summarized some of the main points of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health below:
- 10% have a medical marijuana card or know someone who does
- 7% use medical marijuana in the presence of kids or know someone who does
- 63% strongly or somewhat agree their state should allow medical marijuana for adults
- Only 36% agree medical marijuana should be allowed for children
- 80% agree adults should not be able to use medical marijuana in the presence of children
AN OMISSION THAT SKEWED THE RESULTS AND SHOULD RENAME THE POLL “MAJORITY AMERICANS FEEL CHILDREN SHOULDN’T SMOKE MEDICAL MARIJUANA”
So what is going on? One of the pillars of the medical marijuana movement is the relief cannabis-based medicine can provide for children. How can only 36% support medical marijuana for kids?
Our guess is it’s partly, perhaps mainly, due to the what the poll questions left out or what the participants assumed or didn’t know/realize.
First, the poll questions did not specifically address the question of delivery method of the medicine. Medical marijuana can be administered in a variety of forms. Smoking it is only one form and not the main form for children. This omission is critical in how all the questions are viewed in relation to children. Most people are not as up-to-date as marijuana advocates in all the advancements in cannabis medicines, and many still view smoking as the only way to ingest medical cannabis.
If a respondent to the poll assumed all medical marijuana was smoked, and that a child would have to light up a medical marijuana joint, most would agree this probably isn’t the right path for pediatric medical marijuana. It would explain why only 36% said they support medical marijuana for kids. The more appropriate question would have been “Do you support non-smokable forms of medical marijuana for kids?” We would venture to guess that the percentage responding yes would increase materially.
Additionally, this “smoked” assumption would have been reinforced by the question whether a respondent felt “adults should be allowed to use medical marijuana in the presence of children“. We’d argue this was same as asking “should adults be allowed to SMOKE medical marijuana around kids”. Predictably, an overwhelming 80% said no. Would the same 80% feel the same if the medical marijuana in oil or cream form?
In the poll’s “Implications” discussion, it notes:
This finding suggests that the majority of US adults are concerned that exposure of children to marijuana use by adults, even in the context of medical use, may adversely affect children’s health.
Although not specifically noted, the concern seems to be second hand medical marijuana smoke “exposure”. A child being “exposed” to an adult taking a drop of cannabis oil certainly wouldn’t “affect” the child’s health.
There has been so many polls that show an almost inevitability to not only medical marijuana, but also recreational marijuana that there are bound to be attempts to “counter the numbers”. Whether this poll is such an attempt is open to interpretation.
But the omission of forms of medical marijuana, particularly in a poll designed to gauge views on its use for children, makes the results questionable at best.
What is your take on the numbers? Do you think 36% for medical marijuana support for kids is reflective of Americans views for all forms of medical marijuana? Vote in our poll and sound off below!