Photograph by Chris Hondros—Getty Images
By Sy Mukherjee
April 11, 2016

In a reversal of policy, the Connecticut arm of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has reportedly gotten on board with an effort to expand medical marijuana legalization to sick children in the state.

Connecticut legalized medical marijuana for adults with serious illnesses in 2012, just one year after it decriminalized some cannabis possession. But the state is unique among its 22 other legal medical marijuana peers in that children are completely barred from access to medicinal cannabis.

AAP in Connecticut initially opposed a 2015 effort to change those restrictions for children with chronic, severe medical conditions and epilepsy, citing the risks of marijuana use in developing brains. But the physicians’ group has reversed course this year on the heels of patient advocacy, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“In many cases, there is no relief for these families,” AAP Connecticut executive director Jillian Wood told the Journal. “Who are we to say, ‘No, you can’t try this.'”

The administration of Governor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, has endorsed the legislature’s current push to expand pediatric medical marijuana access, while anti-drug groups have warned of a slippery slope that could lead to increased teen marijuana use. Current proposals would only allow non-smoking forms of medical cannabis, such as edibles.

 

A number of biopharmaceutical companies have been chasing cannabis-based treatments, especially for reducing the severity and incidence of epileptic seizures. GW Pharmaceuticals (gwph) in particular has seen its stock rise this year on the back of promising clinical trial results. Its shares are up more than 15% year to date.

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