Editorial: Are children safe around medicinal marijuana?

American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the use of medical marijuana to treat young children 

by Ivan Delgado

An article written by Maia Szalavitz, a neuroscience journalist for Time.com, goes in on what seems to be an age old question, “is medical marijuana safe for children?”

Oregon girl, Mykayla Comstock, as part of her cancer treatment in a legalized state, uses cannabis. However, Comstock is seven-years old, and her mother, against her doctor’s wishes, has been giving her a gram of lime-flavored capsules filled with cannabis oil everyday. Her doctor originally suggested a bone marrow transplant, but bone marrow transplant is not an easy and painless procedure, it is far opposite of painless, so it is understandable her mother chose a route highly endorsed by many.

Although medical marijuana is legal in her state, Oregon, the idea of a seven year old girl using cannabis still seems somewhat unethical.

Comstock was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in July, according to ABC News.

What might surprise those who oppose the use of cannabis for a seven year olds medical treatment, is that since using the cannabis capsules, Comstock’s cancer has gone into remission.

According to Time.com, The American Academy of Pediatrics, disagrees with her results, and opposes the use of marijuana to treat young children, because it has the potential of being addictive. There are many unknowns about how it may affect developing bodies. Marijuana can be addictive, however, addiction rates are often lower than those to opioid drugs, and those who have discontinued opioids have been linked with symptoms of severe withdrawal. These are affects not seen with marijuana.  While opioids can cause nausea and vomiting, marijuana reduces the risk of these symptoms that frequently plague cancer patients as side effects of radiation or chemotherapy.  Advocates like Mykayla Comstock’s mother, Erin Purchase, argue that if opioids are acceptable to treat a youths cancer pain, then marijuana should be as well.

“The Institute of Medicine (IOM), a scientific group of experts consulted by Congress, analyzed the available data and since 1999 has acknowledged that certain medical uses of marijuana are worth additional study. While the panel noted that many effective treatments already exist to relieve nausea and cancer pain, it recognized that for some patients who may not respond to these therapies, the components in marijuana may be helpful,” In an article written by Maia Szalavitz, “the group’s main objection to the drug was its use in smoked preparations, which is not an issue in this case.”

University of California’s Center for Medical Cannabis Research, Igor Grant, warns that the effects of the drug on child development are still not known. The same can be said about other medications used to fight pain and nausea that are being given to children with cancer, as well as powerful antipsychotic drugs that are used in long term treatment of childhood mental illnesses. Drugs like Morphine and Oxycontin, which are sometimes used to treat the severe pain that accompanies life-threatening cancer and other diseases, can be overdosed.

Although giving a seven-year old a gram of cannabis everyday is not traditional, knowing she is winning a fight with cancer, a disease that takes lives everyday, is something to consider.





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