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Three Teenagers Explain Why They Turned to Marijuana to Help Their Medical Conditions

Children and teens have many conditions that are amenable to treatment by cannabis, but the political and emotional intensity around the issue prevent serious research.

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 Dr. M:  Wow! That’s remarkable.When does he see the endocrinologist again, and what are you going to tell him?.

Laura: Next month. The sugar readings are all there in his meter. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. 

Dr. M: What strain of pot is he getting?

Laura: White Widow.

Dr. M: How about the pediatrician who prescribed the Ritalin? 

Laura: I think I can level with him.  We don’t have a scheduled appointment, we just go in when there is a problem. 

Dr. M: Wasn’t he getting some benefit from Ritalin?  

Laura: No, he was not controlled at all. That medicine did nothing for him and even made him worse, in every possible way. He was always complaining that it made his stomach hurt, but he took it anyway because he knew it was supposed to help him. But it didn’t. Plus, he had zero appetite. He could never gain weight.  We had to try to force foods into him. Now he is gaining weight and asking for seconds. The new clothing I bought for him just after Christmas, three months ago, is all too small now.  

Dr. M: What about at home? How is Jack feeling about himself and this new medicine? 

Laura: He is happier, and very much aware that this medicine is helping him. He goes to bed with no hassle. He’s even reading to me from a book, where it used to be a battle to get him to just lie down. And getting up in the morning is no longer the struggle it was. Oh, and his headaches are gone now.  He was having them two or three times per week, coming home from school and having to sleep for hours.

Dr. M: I want to keep in touch, and see you in the office in a month or so. Is there anything else you want to add?

Laura: Yes. After one week on the cannabis, Jack said to me, “Mom, I want to flush those old pills down the toilet.”

So that’s just what we did.


Nikki: Brain Cancer

Nikki was the first child patient I certified.  I saw her in April of 2009, soon after she finished more than a year of chemotherapy for a brain tumor. 

“A polycystic astrocytoma,” her mother Jane told me. Her father Joe was there, too.

Nikki was bony, blond, with thin, fly-away hair. She was a little distracted, but smiling appropriately. Her left eye didn’t track properly. Her mother did most of the talking about her history.

Jane:  The problem started in January of 2008.  I went to wake her up one morning when she was three years old, and she looked like somebody who’d had a stroke; wasn’t using her left side, and her face was drooping. We called the ambulance, and at the hospital they did a CT scan, and sent her straight to the university in Ann Arbor. They did more scans there, and found the tumor.  It was too big to remove completely, so four days later they did a debulking surgery, and she started the chemo in February.  She went four weeks on and two weeks off all year, and just finished recently.  It was carboplatin and vincristine originally, but she went totally blind for three weeks, so they stopped the vincristine. She’s still blind on the left. 

Dr. M: How did she tolerate the chemo?

Jane:  It made her sick some days, but not deathly ill.  She was always tired, and passed out once at a session.  After that they let her quit early.  

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