Cannabis for ADHD with Dr. Mary Clifton


How Does Cannabis Affect ADHD with Dr. Mary Clifton


There’s no real research examining cannabis’s effects on ADHD, but Dr. Mary Clifton discusses related research that indirectly suggests cannabis may be beneficial for patients with ADHD.



About Mary Clifton, MD

Mary Clifton, MD is an internal medicine doctor in New York City with 20 years of experience in both the hospital and private practice. She’s a licensed by the New York State Department of Health to provide medical marijuana and is a recognized expert in cannabis therapeutics. She’s a published researcher, a national speaker on women’s health and osteoporosis, and is author of four books including the bestseller,  “The Grass Is Greener: Medical Marijuana, THC & CBD OIL: Reversing Chronic Pain, Inflammation and Disease”.

About Dr. Mary Clifton, MD




Dr. Mary Clifton (00:00):

Hi, I’m Jessie, I’m a cannabis nurse and the founder of marijuana mommy. And you’re watching patients are the proof where we talk about the real benefits of cannabis. Today I’m talking with dr Mary Clifton. Dr Clifton is an internal medicine doctor in New York city with 20 years of experience in both the hospital and private practice. She’s a licensed by the New York state department of health to provide medical marijuana and is a recognized expert in cannabis therapeutics. She’s a published researcher, national speaker on women’s health and osteoporosis and author of four books and two new, soon to be released books on CBD and cannabis. Dr Mary Clifton. Hello. Thank you so much. Oh, I’m really excited to be here. Thank you for having me. Fantastic. So tell me a little bit about your practice and how you became involved in cannabis.

Dr. Mary Clifton (00:52):

Well, I do a tele-medicine practice almost exclusively at this point and a lot of consulting within the cannabis community. My work is, you know, to help people get cannabis cards and also to do consultations so people can know, you know, what kind of products to look for when they get to the dispensary. And then I shoot educational videos. I have a hundred free videos on my site and then I shoot a video specific to the work that you’re doing in, in your community for various organizations.

Jessie Gill, RN (01:25):

Fantastic. And how did you become, how did you become a cannabis expert? Because so many you know, practicing physicians aren’t really aware. I, you know, so many healthcare professionals in general aren’t aware of, of the power of the plant and aren’t aware of the developments in cannabis therapeutics. How did you become involved in it?

Dr. Mary Clifton (01:46):

Well, I, I wasn’t particularly aware of myself. I had been practicing, I’ve been practicing for almost 25 years now. And I did you know, a fair number of cannabis cards in my primary practice and advised people, but mostly listened to what people were telling me was working for them. And and I wasn’t really sure about exactly the value of the product or I, and I, and I was very busy as a, as an internal medicine doctor with a lot of specialization in women’s health and osteoporosis and not necessarily thinking about redirecting. And then I had two very important deaths. A my brother who died of colon cancer and a girlfriend, a good girlfriend who died of ovarian cancer.

Dr. Mary Clifton (02:33):

Oh, I know about four months apart. And these were both people that I loved very much and that I ended up doing bedside hospice. I’ve done hospice for 25 years, but I’ve always done it over the telephone with a nurse managing all of the hard work at the bedside or I’ve popped into the hospital and see the patient for five minutes or six or eight minutes or 20 minutes once a day. And then the nurses is been really the bedrock of the care. So this was me at bedside and I got to see, you know, a lot of uncontrolled symptoms without cannabis, and a really pleasant, very smooth experience on the other end with cannabis. So I thought this all is probably just a onetime experience. It’s coincidence. None of this is actually real about none of this can be real. So, so I thought I’ll do a little research and then I’ll get back to my day job. And that was about three years ago.

Jessie Gill, RN (03:32):

Not back to your day job yet, huh?

Dr. Mary Clifton (03:36):

No. There’s so much great data on cannabis. Everybody always says, Oh, there’s no research, but there’s loads of research. So it’s my job to bring that data to people and make it easy to understand why the product might be valuable for you and your various conditions.

Jessie Gil, RN (03:50):

That’s, that’s excellent. And a great point with the research. I just had an interview about that. My last episode that you know, a lot of, a lot of doctors here in the United States think there is no research and the truth is there’s just no US-based research. But there is so much outside. It’s amazing.

Dr. Mary Clifton

The US-based research has been hard to get. I mean, there’s been limitations in getting an adequate product to even start doing the work on. And then once the product is available, the prohibition really limits. It’s a little bit Alice in Wonderland, you know, it limits our ability to, to, to be able to set up great protocols and then the product that’s available to study in the U S is something that people aren’t even using anymore.

Dr. Mary Clifton (04:34):

We can only get it from one source and oftentimes by the time it’s delivered, it’s overly dried or moldy. There’s been a ton of problems with completing high quality research here in the US so I think, I think that’s changing, but in the meantime we can get great data from Israel. There’s great data coming out of Italy and a lot of good Canadian study. Some of my favorite work is coming out of Canada.

Dr. Mary Clifton (04:59):

Fantastic. Yeah, Thank goodness for these other countries that are, are, you know, doing the work for the information that we need. I love your videos. They’re short and so helpful and you know, really target like specific, you know, issues that people can utilize cannabis for. And I watched one in particular that just fascinates me because I don’t know a lot about it, but ADD and ADHD and the use of cannabis a lot of people are starting to explore that more. Can you speak to that a little bit.

Dr. Mary Clifton (05:32):

ADHD is very interesting, surrounding the cannabis use. We don’t have any direct research, but a group of Duke researchers did a very smart study on chat rooms. They looked at chat rooms on the internet in all kinds of platforms and, and looked at people who were talking about ADHD and what they were saying around cannabis and ADHD. And they found thatyou know, they found, I think in the study 258 different chat rooms that were communicating within the chat room about cannabis and in fact, people reported nice benefits to their symptoms of ADHD with taking cannabis. They reported that they were able to sit still for longer and they felt that they could concentrate longer. And the, the studies actually would support that in that cannabis operates in the same parts of the brain when you do a functional MRI or a pet scan, the scans that light up your brain and various areas based on how your brain is responding. When you do a pet scan, it definitely shows that canvas behaves in the movement areas in the back of the brain and the cerebellum in a similar way that methylphenidate or Adderall does.

Dr. Mary Clifton (06:48):

So, a lot of what we’re doing with these ADHD kids and adults because it doesn’t necessarily, you don’t really necessarily grow out of it, but a lot of the problem is that it’s very hard to sit still and do your work. So once somebody can just sit still, oftentimes that will help to relieve quite a bit of the attention deficit. If you can just resolve the hyper activity. And that may be where we’re seeing the results with using cannabis in these settings.

Jessie Gill, RN (07:18):

That’s amazing. That’s it’s, it’s remarkable how many different areas, you know, and how many different issues it can impact. Have you seen anything about, you know, maybe the dosing that people are using? Is this more like you know, I know that the research out of Israel for autism shows us that, that often patients respond best to like high CBD, low THC, more more THC than hemp. Have you seen anything like that with, with ADHD? Are we not there yet?

Dr. Mary Clifton (07:49):

I don’t think we really have specific dosing recommendations, but I think most of your considerations are right on track. And you know, a lot of people respond to a higher CBD with a low THC unless you’re working in in weight loss or loss of appetite or or nausea. All of those seem to be very centrally mediated. And the high THC content seems to be superior in helping some of those symptoms that you see with end stage cancer or sometimes in end stage HIV, although that’s less of an issue nowadays with the antiretrovirals. But managing chronic nausea, managing chronic loss of appetite is more of a central issue and that’s more THC. But I agree the rest of it is a oftentimes of response very well to CBD.

Jessie Gill, RN (08:39):

Hmm. Yeah. I have had, you know, a few people reach out and tell me that just CBD alone is very helpful for their, you know, ADD or ADHD issues. So that, it is interesting. It’ll be fascinating to see what [inaudible] sort of research comes out of this. You know, it’s, so the response and in part that’s because of the CB one and CB two receptor distribution. There’s, you know, physiologic reasons why you haven’t CB one or CB two receptors in various locations. But there’s also the number is genetically determined. So doing this process, having them the amount of CB one and CB two receptors is, is to some degree determined by your genetics. And there’s also the FAAH, the fatty acid, I mean hydrolase levels, that are very much genetically dependent. So some people may…

Jessie Gill, RN (09:34):

Can you explain a little bit about what that is.

Dr. Mary Clifton (09:36):

The FAAH is the enzyme that breaks down the THC or CBD. So some people may report that they have an onset of action when they take the medicine of a few minutes, but then it peters off after a few hours where somebody else may take the same dose of a medicine and watch it peter off over six or eight hours. And that’s because of the amount and the level of activity of the FAAH in individual persons’ metabolisms. So it’s very, it’s hard to come up with a standard dose and the standard dosage recommendation I can say pretty reliably that you’re going to have to give yourself two weeks of trying different doses, seeing how they’re working for you, trying some different products before you say that this doesn’t work. It’s not for everyone, but it’s going to take most people two weeks and a couple of tries before they feel super confident on what they’re doing.

Jessie Gill, RN (10:35):

And I’ve noticed a lot of times it can also, different cultivars can come into play as well. Like, you know, patients will utilize one cultivar, it’ll do very little for them and they’ll find something else and that can be really, really impactful. So I’m always surprised that, you know, well not surprised, but I’m always, you know, I hear so often. And you probably do from patients do like what do you mean? I have to try different things and different doses? Like why, what? Just tell me which one to use that’s going to make me better. And I’m always, my response is always like, well how many different pharmaceuticals did you try? Because like I tried tons of different pharmaceuticals and I know many of them didn’t work for me. And it’s kind of the same with cannabis. There are different types and you got to figure out what works for you because like you said, it’s so genetically determined and it really, really varies from patient to patient.

Dr. Mary Clifton (11:22):

Well that’s very true. And really by any measurement and you know, Motrin, Advil, Aleve all of those products are basically the same molecule. They should all work the same way. But I’ll have patients tell me over and over again that they prefer Aleeve to Motrin. I really don’t understand why you would, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t understand why you would the molecules are so similar than really we used to call them another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory when they were first coming into market, like all the day pro and, and relevant, all of that to very, very similar molecules and their claims to fame were so weak. You know, it was just a another one joining an already crowded field. But you know, we’re, we’re also trying to standardize this product, but in reality it’s a plant and even from one side of the greenhouse to the other, the exact same monoculture across the greenhouse, the exact same soil, all of the same conditions apply.

Dr. Mary Clifton (12:20):

You’re going to have different levels of THC and CBD on plant a on one end and plant B on the other end there. They’re individual plants.

Jessie Gill, RN (12:28):

And terpene production can vary a lot too.

Dr. Mary Clifton (12:32):

Absolutely. Absolutely. So I’ll have people who have had, who are doing a homegrown and they’ll test their homegrown and say, look at these tests. They’re so vastly different. I mean these, these laboratories are all screwed up. No, I don’t think it’s the lab.

Jessie Gill, RN (12:48):

Yeah, it is. It is such a common misconception that people think if they’re going to get their seeds with their genetics and they’re going to get their exact product that they want and it doesn’t always work out like that because grow conditions can impact so much of the chemovar of the plant or that really makes a big difference.

Dr. Mary Clifton (13:07):

100% just very subtle changes in, in hydration and in sun exposure, light exposure and you can see major differences in your plants. So yeah, you just have to take a step back on that and try to, try to honor the results and realize that we’re dealing with a natural product here. And we want to, you know, because you want to have some variability and have a plant that is responding to the situation around it and that is going to adjust the tepenes. I always wonder if there is it just some natural adjustment seasonally for what you need that you don’t even realize you need. Like you know, even on our earth, if you eat seasonally you would be eating a lot of fresh green light leaves. The leaves get darker and thicker and green when you’re getting into collards and kale that can live and still grow this time of year and the fall is just loaded with orange, right, with all of the squashes and everything.

Dr. Mary Clifton (14:03):

So there is apparently a need for more beta carotene and its other constituents this time of year that I don’t think anyone really understand.

Jessie Gill, RN (14:11):

I don’t think so either.

Dr. Mary Clifton (14:12):

But it’s hard to find something orange in may and June to eat.

Jessie Gill, RN (14:15):

It is. Yeah, that’s good point. That’s a very good point. Fascinating.

Dr. Mary Clifton (14:21):

It is. It is. I think sometimes if we allow the natural world to guide us, we’re going to get a lot farther than if we keep trying to inflict a very severe control around it.

Jessie Gill, RN (14:31):

I so completely agree and that’s one of the things I worry about with cannabis. Like if it’s taken over by, you know, our big pharmaceutical companies and our large corporations that are going to just turn it into this mass tightly controlled product. So we’ll see. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.

Dr. Mary Clifton (14:49):

Well, I think there’s probably going to positions for some very high quality distillations where if you’re dealing with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis for example, I think there’s some exciting research coming in around that where you know, we can, yeah. Where we can maybe distill down different concentrations of more of the lesser known cannabinoids. It’s like got a CBN or CBG and then concentrate those and find a very, very potent anti-inflammatory product. Because a lot of these poor patients are going to biologics right now that are doing a wallop on their impart system.

Jessie Gill, RN (15:25):

It is a devastating treatment for a devastating condition. It’s really, really hard. You know, the whole such a tough, tough, my sister has Crohn’s disease, such a, such a challenging, challenging condition.

Dr. Mary Clifton (15:37):

It hits everybody close to the heart? It does, yeah. Everybody knows somebody who’s just not doing well under those circumstances. You know,

Jessie Gill, RN (15:48):

So many. I know because there’s, there are so few options with that.

Dr. Mary Clifton (15:53):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think finding some great options. I’m really hopeful that we’re going to get some great options coming out of cannabinoid distillations in those settings. And so, you know, we’ll see.

Jessie Gill, RN (16:04):

Yeah, it’d be very interesting. And you know what, I love that you are able to offer tele-health in New York. So maybe tell us a little bit about how it works over there because in New Jersey, patients are not allowed to use tele-health to acquire their cards and it, you know, you mentioned hospice. I’m a former hospice nurse, that’s my background too. And it’s, you know, patients can’t get out of their homes. There’s, they’re bedbound and it’s a huge limitation here. So I love that a few States do offer it, and New York is one of them.

Dr. Mary Clifton (16:34):

There’s only a few States in the country that do, I think New York, Vermont, Iowa, there’s, there’s a few States there and I think, and I think that that’s, I think that more will come online as time passes. But thethe card production is, is fairly simple and very easy. You can just be in contact. We’ll have a conversation, I create a card and and generate a PDF and then you have everything that you need to go to the dispensary. There’s a little bit of work you have to do with the state of New York, but otherwise, you know, you should it’s, it’s not difficult to get a card. And consultations I think should not be expensive either. So I have very reasonably priced consultations that allow people to, you know, do like more of an urgent care consultation and make a decision on how things should work for them.

Jessie Gill, RN (17:21):

Yeah, that’s fantastic. And how can people book a session with you?

Dr. Mary Clifton (17:26):

Oh, well you can just reach out. I appreciate you sharing that. You can, you can connect with me through CBD and cannabis I also have And that’s where I have the cards and the consultations.

Jessie Gill, RN (17:50):

And I’ll put, I’ll put those down in the comments as well. So that people can click them. But I really, really appreciate your time. I think that’s a great place to wrap up. Is there anything you would like to add?

Dr. Mary Clifton (18:01):

I know we did a nice, a nice job covering everything. I do want to tell you that I reached out to the researchers that did the chat room information on ADHD. There they were Duke based researchers and asked them if I could do a web, a webinar with them and they they remain very staunchly anti cannabis. And I said, I said after your review, it would be really hard, I think to remain anti-cannabis, this may be a nice alternative for your patients. But you know what? They’re Duke and Duke is big tobacco and big tobacco is not big cannabis.

Jessie Gill, RN (18:35):

They’re the Southeast coast. So we know, you’re on the East coast. We’re lacking and we’re a little behind over here, especially further South.

Dr. Mary Clifton (18:46):

Yeah, North Carolina may be one of the last pegs to fall. They’re pretty resistant, so, but you guys just need to keep up the hard work. There are so many big industries that are trying to prevent, I mean, alcohol of course, pharmaceuticals. So you know, whatever you can do to keep driving it forward,

Jessie Gill, RN (19:06):

Keep contacting those elected officials, everybody at home, keep contacting them. The only way to get that movement.

Dr. Mary Clifton (19:14):

Well, thank you so much for having me.

Jessie Gill, RN (19:16):

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it and I will talk to you soon.

Dr. Mary Clifton (19:20):


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