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Medical Marijuana for Children

A teenager holds a box of zig zags where his mom has written "we need to talk."


Medical Marijuana for Children

For years now, awareness and support for the use of medical marijuana by cancer patients (among other sufferers) has been on the rise, especially very recently. The controversy is far from over, however, as a story out of Oregon about a parent giving cannabis to her daughter diagnosed with leukemia has the nation talking.

7-year-old Mykayla Comstock was diagnosed with her cancer in July, and three days later her mother, Erin Purchase, filed Oregon medical marijuana paperwork so she could medicate her daughter. According to Oregon law, minors may enroll in the state medical marijuana program if their parent or legal guardian gives consent and takes responsibility as a caregiver. There are 52 minors between the ages of four and 17 currently enrolled in the program. Top ailments cited are severe pain, nausea, muscle spasms, and seizures.

According to ABC News, Mykayla did not respond well to treatments, including chemotherapy. Her mother started giving her cannabis oil pills and by mid-August, Mykayla was in remission, bypassing the necessity of a bone-marrow transplant. Doctors will not say whether or not the cannabis oil played a role in Mykayla’s remission, and some are staunchly against cannabis treatment for children or in general. Mykayla’s mother, however, does not think it’s just a coincidence, and credits the pills for at least helping get rid of the cancer.

Even among doctors who approve the use of medical marijuana in cancer patients and other patients there is some debate over its usefulness and harm for children. Many forms of medicinal cannabis do have psychoactive properties, which long-term health effects are unknown for users with developing brains.

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