At the Peace in Medicine Healing Center in Sebastopol, the wares on display include dried marijuana – featuring brands like Kryptonite, Voodoo Daddy, and Train Wreck – and medicinal cookies arrayed below a sign saying, "Keep Out of Reach of Your Mother."
Several Bay Area doctors who recommend medical marijuana for their patients said in recent interviews that their client base had expanded to include teenagers with psychiatric conditions including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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"It's not everybody's medicine, but for some, it can make a profound difference," said Valerie Corral, a founder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a patients' collective in Santa Cruz that has two dozen minors as registered clients.
Because California does not require doctors to report cases involving medical marijuana, no reliable data exist for how many minors have been authorized to receive it.
But Dr. Jean Talleyrand, who founded MediCann, a network in Oakland of 20 clinics who authorize patients to use the drug, said his staff members had treated as many as 50 patients ages 14 to 18 who had A.D.H.D. Doctors have been at the forefront of the fierce debate about medical marijuana, winning tolerance for people with grave illnesses like terminal cancer and AIDS.
Yet as these doctors use their discretion more liberally, such support – even here – may be harder to muster, especially when it comes to using marijuana to treat adolescents with A.D.H.D.
"How many ways can one say 'one of the worst ideas of all time?' " asked Stephen Hinshaw, the chairman of the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley. He cited studies showing that tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, disrupts attention, memory, and concentration – functions already compromised in people with attention-deficit disorder.