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Using medical marijuana to treat ADHD in teenagers | The NORML Stash Blog

I am the producer of The NORML Network, the host of the NORML SHOW LIVE and The NORML Stash Blog, and NORML's Outreach Coordinator. I'm married, live in Portland, Oregon, and I am a registered medical marijuana caregiver in this state. I've worked days as an IT geek and nights as a professional musician. Previously, I have been the host of my own political talk radio show on satellite radio. I've been the High Times "Freedom Fighter of the Month" and I travel across the country to educate people on marijuana reform. I've dedicated my life to bringing an end to adult marijuana prohibition and re-legalizing cannabis hemp, and I'm honored to be chosen by NORML to give voice to the Marijuana Nation and to speak for those who can't speak up.

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26 responses to “Using medical marijuana to treat ADHD in teenagers”

  1. Mark

    So happy I read this articles and the comments, except david oliver i would ask you to use your brain if you had one. I would think parents who do their research about medications their doctors prescribe would much prefer Cannabis to the stimulants and amphetamines usually prescribed for ADD/ADHD. Its ridiculous that the latter is common practice. No child should ever be given these drugs especially for long term treatment. amphetamines permanently damage dopamine receptors and stimulate the “Reward Pathway”, which is truly where the gateway drug theory applies. These kids who are being prescribed amphetamines (stimulants whatever its all the same crap) are being told how dangerous these drugs are by “drug abuse resistance” programs, and then they go home and pop a pill version of the junk. What are these kids supposed to think about drug abstinence? The system is flawed my friends, and only the people who have experienced it first hand can do something about it. You don’t have to protest in the street. Just when you hear somebody talking out their butt about these types of issues (oliver), feel free to chyme in with your overwhelming knowledge about how the world really works

  2. Chris

    Wow – reading this has really confirmed what I have known for a long time.
    I was diagnosed with ADD \ ADHD frmo a very young age. Given a strict diet and sent to many councillors. The ADD mixed with ADHD bought about anger issues as a young person. By the time I was 12 I had already been sent on camps and foster homes as my mother was a single parent & couldn’t deal with myself & by sister both being ADD & ADHD. Not long after the age of 12 I had no choice but to move to my fathers or risked being in jail or off the rails. Up until the age of 15 these problems kept on but with no police thank god. Mostly I was prescribed Dextroamphetamine – which is basically speed cut with some other stuff and the side affects were insane including loss of sleep. However at the age of 15 I was given my first cone by a family member. It was noted almost right away that my thinking was more rational, my personality better and more friendly. I am now 31 and have been using it since. However – I am an IT professional and have been since I was 19. I am consistently required to learn new technology and that is where the ADHD & ADD come in to their own. Of course my use of weed is never before or during work, but after. It allows me to sleep correctly, slow the thinking and if the weeds good enough – stop it so I can sleep even better again. I left school before finding it and later tried to finished secondary school but I had already gained real work experience in IT so I never did finish. Later I figured out why I didn’t ever do good at school and that is the ADD part where I also have a learning disability. I learn by doing and since a computer gives you direct and instant feed back it responds to the ADHD part. So IT work in the end proved to be great and all the teachers saying to get off the computer really didn’t understand what was going on. Plus – 130k a year is awesome pay – all thanks to ADD & ADHD plus being able to tame it with weed when required. Before this – I was on my way to jail. Also for my final bit of this comment – I have many read that weed is a gateway drug. I think not. In my personal experience it is more social impacts that might have a smoker try something else. For me – since I was pretty much given speed in tablet form I have tried the drug to see what would happen, the outcome was the same as the Dextroamphetamine!! Yay. I also experimented with lsd once but it all had nothing to do with smoking. It had to do with my social group at the time and others trying it and it making me wonder what the experience was like. And now at 31 all I do is have my weed, I dont even carry a packet of cigs on me! Also just to shine a little light on ADD + ADHD – I once pegged a doctor about it and got a decent reply. The reason why to this day doctors do not know all about ADD & ADHD is those with have different brain chemicals between the left and right side of the bring (Well for me) and the Dextroamphetamine was meant to even it out. But the affects was like being someone else and watching from outside your body. Give me my weed any day over something made in a lab! :)

  3. lucy

    Maridol is THC in pill form. It is not used for ADHD. :(

  4. Nikki

    I have been ADHD since I can remember I was once on a pill for it and although it turned me into a zombified little 8 year old that basically couldn’t have a thought for herself it did not improve my grades in school and my parents took me off of it(which I am grateful for)as a way to get back at the teachers who failed me even though to them my grades weren’t good but they wern’t woth failing me over. After that school stayed an issue for me and I struggled every year then when I was a freshman in high school one of the first projects in my health class was to be asinged a drug and research it and then present it to the class. I had also struggled with extreme insomina (I believe to be related to my ADHD) so when I was given marijuana as my drug to research I had plenty of time to do so.I believe I visited almost every website there was during my sleepless nights. After learning all the postives I thought I would give marijuana I try and what would you know I finally had a regular bedtime of 9-10 o’clock every night and then my grade improved ,I am not saying I was making straight A’s in all my classes but I was doing way better than just passing . And then (because I am heavier set) I began to eat regular meals instead of like once a day and I started to lose weight which improved my self image and then I started having a social life…..marijauna turned me into a perfectly functional member of society and for that I will not go back to anything over the counter it was put here on this earth for more than one reason and its natural why do you have to hate the gifts that god give you? And the only reason I am not smoking right now is because I just had a baby and social services is jumping down my throat……Let me tell you I feel like a horrible mother sober. I can’t wait until I can get my life back. Thank you for this website it truly makes me feel better that I am not the only one who feels this way. Hang strong my freinds we will see the day!!

  5. Bryan

    I have self madicated my ADHD with marijuana for 18 years. I have found that only the best ganja with high amounts of THC work for treating ADHD. Im sure there is some science to this but my expirience is the stronger the head trip the better the medicine. Body buzz pot may be good for back pain but useless in ADHD treatment. Every time in my life that I have had to stop smoking for one reason or another I start having major life problems (school work, traffic tickets, conficlts with loved ones, deminished job performance, I could go on forever). Recently I have had scares with lung/throat bugs that just wont go away so I am currently suffering without my perfect ADHD treatment Pay cuts from this economy and a 2nd child on the way have made it all but impossible to afford any pot let alone $60 for am eigth, one weeks supply (roughly $3,000 dollars a year for something I could easily grow on my 7 acres). Fortunately my wife, who completely notices the improvements in my life when Im on pot, is very understanding. I pay a ton of money on health care and this medication isnt even an option in my corrupt/ignorant state of MA. I mean really how much science is involved in putting high quality ground marijuana in time release capsules (copyright by me =P). Just let me grow the damn stuff so I can eat it, for pennies not thousands of dollars, and live relatively ADHD symptom free and side effect free. For those of you who don’t understand how marijuana could help someone focus read the German driving study that proved marijuana has an atypical effect on the ADHD, brain causing it to focus better rather than focus better. Gee why would speed (ritalin) calm down a hyperactive kid isnt that also an opposite? The real problem is marijuana is a million maybe billion dollar cash crop if it were legal that profit would be miniscule (I would simple grow it). Get your head out of the sand America.

  6. Zac

    i am an Australian 19 year old male and i was diagnosed with severe ADD at the age of 11. I was medicated with dexamphetamine and i now regret that i was ever put on the drug. I became incredibly anxious which led to many trips to the dentist from heavy grinding and enamel erosion. When i didnt feel like a withdrawn blank void incapable of social interaction, i struggled with obsessive and negative thoughts that eventually led to decreased performance in school and further anxiety. i also lost my appetite to the point that i would feel physically ill at the thought of food. and what good did it all do me? i became a conformist drone that obeyed every social convention and lost touch with my real self. i began using cannabis infrequently at 17 and have found that through its use i became much calmer and is helping deal with my anxiety aswell as contributing to more positive thinking about my self and those around me. i also have found that it has helped me reassess my character and get back a part of myself that i had once sadly considered lost to the past.\
    I agree however that the teen years are an important time in a persons development and teen cannabis use can, for some people, lead to de-motivation and the transformation into a lazy couch bandit.

  7. wipp.it

    one of the problems which comes immediately to mind, is the fact that so many children have been diagnosed with ADHD, simply for the purposes of generating a dollar for the drug companies…those who do not really have the disorder. they have a terrific way of botching everything up.

  8. LYN

    my bf is thinking about getting it what should i do

  9. danisaur

    when i was a kid i was diagnosed with hypertension and ADHD i still have it and i still cant have sweets due to the sugar rushes that could give me a heart attack and kill me. i’m only 17 and i hardly get to eats sweets and junk food like normal teens. i was on ritalin and adderol. the doses got higher and higher and i hit deppression and anorexia. i was perscribed medical mary jane for anorexia and now weigh 115 pounds (thank you muchies and edibles). the deppression treatment is still being questioned but i’m becoming happier that i’m healthy. my ADHD is no longer constant and my hypertension is under control. medical marijuana saved my life :-)

  10. BRON

    I stumbled onto this site because I was looking for information on the subject of marajuana for treating ADHD. I really appreciate all the helpful input here. for the past 2 years my now 13 year old daughter has been in treatment for ADHD and depression. Recently a psychiatrist was introduced into the mix and now they want to give my daughter meds. I am 51 and I too have ADHD. When I was a kid, I was tormented by this illness until I discovered alcohol and soon after pot. Only when I was high or drunk did I feel normal, It slowed down the racing thoughts and allowed me to focus. My life was like one long panic attac when I wasen’t high. The only problem was the alcohol. I became an alcohloic and it nearly killed me. I believe that if I had only used marajuana and not introduced alcohol into my self-medication program, I would have had an effictive and safe treatment plan. I don’t care if you smoke for pleasure or to medicate, marajuana is not the demon. If there’s a devil in this battle, it’s those who oppose marajuana.
    PS; My thanks to Governor Arnold Schwarzennegger of California who last week signed a bill making possession of an ounce or less an infraction with no jail time attached and a max. fine of $100. One step at a time.

  11. matt

    I was diagnosed with adhd when I was about 7 or 8 and now being 15 I’m starting to read up on alternitive treatments. At first I thought yeah medical marijuana great now my parents can buy my pot and I can smoke in whenever but through multiple blogs and vidios I realized that the medications I’ve been taking really don’t help at all. I started out on ritilan, a small dose, I quickly had to move up to a larger dose and ever since then ize been jumping around from pill to pill with the dosages steadily increasing every time I visit the doctor. When I started smoking I didn’t notice much but as I think back on my life before the herb I was pretty bad. I was getting missing asignments and demerits and some killer headaches but now its so much better. I think that ohio should leagilize medical so I don’t have to move to michigan; who knows after ohio the whole country will follow and leagilize the obvious solution to so many peoples problems

  12. The Real Deal REEFER HEAD

    yo i think they should just put an age limit on the shit “21″ to be exact and just let the lil weed heads smoke our fucking weed. it is my life and it aint nobodies business weather i smoke pot .that is a decision the person should make weather to smoke weed or not ,not the fucking u.s. government.

  13. Mark

    Pot in my opnion and experince is an excellent treatment for ADHD. I was diagnosed when I was younger and no matter what people think you dont outgrow it. I am 26 and whenenevr I smoke and get a buzz I can contentrate extremley well. The problem is the Pharmceautical Companies are afraid would lose money if their medications became unsued due to Marijuana usage and not to mention the Religiuos nutjobs in this country who think God woud be upset with them and forsake this country if they let it be legalized or decriminalized. I say Pot should be legal for sufferers of ADHD to use without fear of Big Brother stepping in.

  14. Kujars

    As a long time ADHD sufferer I can say Marijuana works well. I started smoking pot around 18 or 19 and everyone said I acted more mature, was better organized, and had less anger issues. Funny enough these same people still don’t believe it was the pot that did it. I believe that having the kids smoke pot is not the way to go. But any kid would love to eat brownies or cookies to help with their condition. I’d cook pot with my food and deserts and quit smoking it if it was affordable to do so. Keep up the good work NORML! We will eventually get what we’re after.

  15. kaliman

    we live in texas where is totally taboo to even consider on medicating a child with cannabis but truth of the matter is that if it works is not side effects to it and the child will perform and behaive in a better manner there should be some kind of pills or tablets with low doses of thc for kids with ADHD or are there? we are tired of medicating our child with chemicals that make them worse and inmune so they use more and more there should be more done to this and get real facts and get to it for the benifit our future that are our kids.

  16. BEBE

    get your head out of the sand. this is reality, and subject matter is open for discussion. if you don’t approve of subject you can go to a different site. :-o

  17. owldog

    I say to each his own. Everybody is unique. While one kid might be violently allergic to pot, another might serve as a catalyst to more normal behavior and adjustment. It is very hypocritical however to say pot is dangerous when most of the illness and side effects, even death are caused by drugs that come out of the laboratory.

  18. Tammy

    My son and I both are ADHD. I was not diagnosed as a child of course. I have known several kids who are ADHD as well. Know how many had horror stories about Ritalin? All of them! How does a 5 year old child taking Ritalin think of suicide? My son, he had nightmares, it effected the child like look in his eyes that was there before and he seemed doped up, not like the sweet little boy he normally was. I had the doctor change his meds, yes she made me feel judged but she changed it to Adderall, well Adderall took his appetite away and did not work for him. Finally he was on concerta and it was working but then he stupidly took a pill to school and I was told he could go to jail for that and he never saw any more pills again after this. It was the only way I could think to make sure it didnt happen again. So we had to do this without medications. Now if my son was highly ADHD I would not have been able to but he was mild in compairison. He only took the meds the days he had school (for his teachers sake) even though they never cared he was ADHD and never made any allowances for it, they ignored it. Me not knowing everything there was to know about options, I was not aware I could have had more help him. We did it anyway. He is now age 17, has been off those medications for a few years now and even though he doesnt make perfect grades… he is passing ~without medications. RITALIN SHOULD BE TAKEN OFF THE MARKET!!! It is one of the worst medications you can give to a child. So I guess I would have to agree about the comparison to medical marijuana to medications given to ADD/ADHD, I think the medications are far more capable of warping our children permanently.

  19. Alina

    Marijuana has long been the poor-girl’s PTSD medication. It worked for me. Why not for adolescent ADHD? (There may be a connection between the two.) Just as in the studies with kids and autism, THC helps to calm anxiety and panic attacks, and helps to channel one’s natural creativity and imagination. It becomes easier to concentrate and focus, and enjoy what one is doing.

    I believe it helped me from the age I was traumatized (12) until the present (55). Also, I never drank alcohol or indulged in any other drugs, including the valium, tranquilizers and other drugs the doctors were prescribing for me when I was an adolescent.

    At one point, my brother and I staged an intervention for my mother who was suffering from acute alcohol-induced psychosis. We not only kept her out of jail, we saved her life by forcing her to switch to marijuana. I believe she was ADHD as well as an alcoholic. The THC dramatically changed her mental health: she became calm and clear: my mother again. It also kept her sober and productive until she met a man she married who disapproved of it. And, they both relapsed as alcoholics.

    I’m a highly successful professional in my creative field. I have a doctorate and am a tenured professor. I still smoke. It still helps me.

    I have noticed a marked improvement in my 14 year old son’s impulsiveness the one time I believe he was smoking. His teachers have suggested that I get him tested for ADHD. It makes me wonder. I would never give him Ritalin. I once worked with severely mentally disabled young adults in the early ’70s. I witnessed the results of Ritalin-addled kids. Sure. They weren’t running off. But they weren’t “there” either.

    It also makes me wonder about using it help assuage an epidemic of violence-prone, morally-deficient, non-self-reflexive kids.

    Thanks for the post.

  20. Bruce

    There is a logical reason why marijuana might work with ADD. People with that condition actually have troubles moderating their concentration. Either they can’t concentrate, or they go into hyper-concentration (not as often). The research that says that marijuana causes loss of concentration was done with normal brains.
    Contrary to popular belief ADD is not a “kids disease”. Many adults suffer with that condition. So, has nobody noticed that, despite the fact that there are adults that can provide anecdotal evidence, and participate in research, they skipped right to the hysteria of “giving drugs to kids”.

    First we go to the old cliché of the double-blind study. Once the efficacy is recognized by scientist, we can the consider giving it to kids.

  21. Stash for Mon, Nov 23, 2009 | NORML Daily Audio Stash

    [...] Using medical marijuana to treat ADHD in teenagers [...]

  22. M in Oregon

    Yes, mister oliver… I also ask you, why shouldn’t they reprint and comment on a story that shows how cannabis, that is safer than asprin, should not be made available to minors whose parents choose this safe and effective natural herb for treatment of adhd…

    Perhaps you’d prefer the syntetic ritalin be the only thing available even though for some, as in the case of Dr. Lucido’s 16 year old patient, it did not work.

    Hmmm… speed is OK, but a little cannabis, that actually works for him, and is safer than the bottle of aspirin in the medicine cabinet, is taboo?

    By not sharing and discussing this article, Russ would be remiss in allowing lies and ignorance to prevail.

    Do you have any logical argument behing your demand, David? One that would give any of us any reason to think this shouldn’t be re-printed and discussed?

  23. Bob

    No, keep this story up I say. I diagnosed myself years back with ADHD (’cause my low income family couldn’t afford to take me to a doctor to get a diagnoses). I still have ADHD symptoms to this day and the only thing that has really helped me is marijuana. I know this is a controversial issue when it comes to treating kids with marijuana but I think it’s much better than the pharmaceutical drugs many American children are on today. Do I believe children should be treated with marijuana though? I do, whether it be by vapors or edibles though ’cause it does a better job than straight smoke. I also believe that recreational use shouldn’t be allowed for people under 18.


  24. David oliver

    use your brains gentlemen and get this story off this site it does not belong here

  25. brian

    How does this work does a kid take a couple of puffs before school of sativa or something? Or a vaporizer, or does he take a pill?

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