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Home » Blog » Hemp Education » CBD for Kids: Can Children Safely and Legally Consume Cannabidiol?

CBD for Kids: Can Children Safely and Legally Consume Cannabidiol?

Mother gives cbd syrup to a child.

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Children face many of the same ailments that adults do, sometimes to even a greater degree. This includes illnesses like chronic pain, epileptic seizures and insomnia. In most instances, they also respond to the same treatment, though careful measures must be taken regarding dosage. This naturally leads to the topic at hand: CBD for kids. Is it safe for minors to consume CBD in any form? Is it legal?

Can Children Legally Consume CBD?

In case you’re wondering, the laws regarding CBD use applies to minors the same way it applies to adults. In other words, there’s no federal age requirement. This means you have to refer to the cannabis laws pertaining to your respective state.

We recommend visiting the National Cannabis Industry Association for a state-by-state break down of cannabis laws. Parents are known to travel or completely relocate to a cannabis-friendly state in order to lawfully administer CBD to an ill child.

In any case, we recommend speaking with your child’s pediatrician before giving CBD oil a try. Cannabidiol may interfere with some medications.

Can Minors Purchase CBD?

Purchasing CBD in a brick-and-mortar dispensary is a whole other issue altogether. As with purchasing alcohol, you have to be at least 21-years of age. Most dispensaries won’t even permit anyone under that age to enter their premise without an older adult. Even some cannabis sites ask visitors to confirm their age before being allowed to browse the site.

Next, let’s take a look at some of the conditions CBD oil may be useful for.

CBD for Kids with ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects roughly 5 percent of American children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Boys are three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed. Roughly 60 percent of children with ADHD will also face the condition as adults.

What role does CBD play in ADHD, if any? Studies in this area are still limited, though one study1 does show that cannabidiol holds promise for alleviating ADHD symptoms in adults.

There are not any studies we know of that examine the efficacy of CBD on children with ADHD. There are, however, plenty of anecdotal evidence from satisfied parents swearing by its effects.

CBD for Kids with Epilepsy

Scientific evidence of CBD for childhood epilepsy is more abundant. According to 2015 data, epilepsy affects roughly 470,000 children nationwide, or 0.6 percent of America’s youth.

We dedicated an entire post on CBD oil for seizures. Research supports the use of cannabidiol oil for children with frequent seizures. In one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 120 subjects underwent a 14-week treatment of CBD oil or a placebo. The subjects consisted of children and young adults diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a form of epilepsy triggered by fever or hot weather.

The results? The average number of convulsive seizures decreased from 12.4 to 5.9 per month for the CBD group. The placebo group saw an insignificant decrease from 14.9 to 14.1. 5 percent of subjects in the CBD group also became completely seizure-free.

In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration also officially backed the use of CBD for kids with epilepsy. A CBD product called Epidiolex was greenlighted for treatment of the epilepsy conditions Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epidiolex can be prescribed to children two years of age and older.

CBD Oil for Children with Anxiety

According to a CDC mental health report, 3 percent of children 3-17 years of age face chronic anxiety. Of course, the majority of children and adults alike face some degree of anxiety induced by external circumstances. However, chronic and persisting anxiety is not normal. Fortunately, there is evidence suggesting CBD may alleviate incessant fear and worry in children.

In one study2, CBD oil proved effective for a 10-year-old female patient with pediatric anxiety. The anxiety occurred as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder stemmed from sexual abuse. The cannabidiol not only quelled her anxiety but also proved beneficial for her insomnia.

The study only involved a single subject, so obviously further studies are warranted before we can definitively recommend CBD oil for children with anxiety. However, other studies3 show that CBD is effective as an anxiolytic drug, meaning it treats anxiety in its various incarnations, from panic attacks to obsessive-compulsive disorders.

What About Social Anxiety?

This is a specific area of anxiety we wanted to discuss since social anxiety affects roughly 5 percent of children and teens. This can make it exceptionally difficult for kids to make friends and coexist with their peers at school. Social anxiety typically develops in children in their early to mid-adolescence (around ages 13-15). Teen girls are also more prone to the disorder. Symptoms include withdrawn behavior, anxiety about going to school, extreme self-consciousness and even suicidal thoughts in severe instances.

Is CBD oil a legitimate form of treatment for children suffering from social anxiety? There aren’t studies in this area that specifically involve minors as subjects. However, there is one research that demonstrates CBD’s effectiveness for alleviating anxiety in social situations.

In the study4, subjects with social anxiety participated in a public speaking activity. Public speaking is a common phobia for most individuals. Half of the subjects took 600 mg of CBD, the other half took a placebo. The CBD group exhibited less stress during their speaking performance. Monitoring showed they had a lower heart rate and lower blood pressure during their stint compared to the placebo.

CBD isn’t a cure-all for social-anxiety-prone teens. However, it may quell anxiety just enough to get them to move beyond their comfort zone.

Methods of CBD Administration for Kids

CBD oil is the most commonplace cannabis products. You may certainly administer it to your child. You can pour a few droplets onto their Captain Crunch or Lunchables. Some parents apply the under-the-tongue method for increased bioavailability, though this may prove difficult for younger children who may protest or refuse to hold still.

To really get your young ones to enjoy the supplement, we suggest CBD gummies for kids. CBD gummies are akin to Flinstone vitamins. The latter is known for motivating children to take a daily vitamin with its sweet chalky taste. It’s the same idea with CBD gummies for kids. It’s no different than eating regular gummy bears.

Can Children Legally Vape CBD?

Children are permitted to use CBD oils and edibles in accordance with state laws. Using a vape pen, though, is a different matter altogether. Individual states have their respective minimum vaping age. In 41 states, the minimum age is 18. The remaining states include Utah, Alaska and Alabama, where the age minimum is 19. The minimum age is 21 in California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey and Hawaii.

Local municipalities, though, may impose their own restrictions and enforce vaping and smoking bans for anyone under 21.

Simply put, for children under 18, vaping is prohibited. This applies whether or not the e-juice contains nicotine.

CBD Dosage for Children

What are dosage guidelines for minors? A lot of variables are at play, including sensitivity, bodyweight, and severity of ailment. In one study5, 214 child patients with epilepsy were given large CBD doses, as high as 50 mg/kg every day for 12 weeks. Convulsive seizures went down by a third with minimal adverse effects observed.

The study shows that CBD in large doses is relatively safe for minors. Even so, we recommend starting with the minimal dose needed to see results. For the average adult, suggested dosage is about 1/8 of a teaspoon three times daily. For children, start with 1/20 of a teaspoon three time a day. This totals to about 35-40 mg of CBD per day. If using a dropper, this comes down to about four drops each serving.

This should be adequate for general ailments, such as insomnia, pain, or anxiety. If taken for epilepsy, dosage may be up to 10x fold, depending on doctor recommendation.

Be Sure to Monitor for Side Effects

Due to their smaller size, younger children require smaller doses. For the same reason, they may also be more prone to side effects. We suggest seeing our post on potential CBD side effects. Adverse reactions apply to children just as they do to adults. Parents must take special care to monitor their children during CBD administration, especially during their initial trial.

We must emphasize that side effects are not commonplace. Remember we just mentioned that children with epilepsy were given doses up to 50 mg without showing signs of adverse reactions. Nevertheless, everyone is different, and some kids may be more sensitive.

CBD Oil May Improve Children’s Lives

We need to see more studies regarding the effects of CBD on children. The few studies available, though, are promising. If you choose to go this route, please follow the laws of your residing state. Just as importantly, only purchase CBD oil or gummies from a trustworthy supplier. Poor-quality oils and edibles may contain THC, which may heighten risk of side effects.

See our Where to Buy page for a list of reputable suppliers.

Medical References

Cooper R, Williams E, Seegobin S, Tye C, Kuntsi J, Asherson P. Cannabinoids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomised-controlled trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017;27(8):795-808. [PubMed]
Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016;20(4):108-111. [PMC]
Schier A, Ribeiro N, Silva A, et al. Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2012;34 Suppl 1:S104-10. [PubMed]
Bergamaschi M, Queiroz R, Chagas M, et al. Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226. [PMC]
Devinsky O, Marsh E, Friedman D, et al. Cannabidiol in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy: an open-label interventional trial. Lancet Neurol. 2016;15(3):270-278. [PubMed]
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Christopher Walker

Christopher Walker has a degree in Neuroscience from Duke University, and is the research writer for The Universal Plant. He has dedicated his life to helping men and women around the world educate themselves and take action to improve their health with natural plant-based and nutrient therapies. Follow him on Instagram @_christopherwalker