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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: And what about the behavior problems?

Jane:  Well I think the root of it all was that she couldn’t sleep.  She would go days without sleeping, and then just crash wherever she was, always for four hours. Then she’d wake up, and the whole thing would start all over again. We had her grandparents staying over some nights so her father and I could get some sleep. “I can’t sleep, Mom,” she’d tell me.  I think that was 90 percent of the problem.  She was just miserable and mad at the world, because she was so tired all the time.

Dr. M: What kind of behavior problems were there?

Jane:  She became really angry, and wouldn’t share anything with other kids. She didn’t want to play with them, or even be around the dogs and cats. She would scream at her sister, “Leave me alone,” and “Get out of my room.”  She lost her appetite, and would tell us she wasn’t hungry when we tried to get her to eat. She also had a hypersensitivity to noise, and couldn’t stand the radio in the car when we went out. 

Dr. M: What about school?

Jane:  We tried kindergarten, but she puked on the third day, and with the way she was acting, the principal said she wasn’t ready for school, so we pulled her out.  

Dr. M: How has her use of cannabis changed things? 

Jane:  Well, basically she’s a happy little girl again. She’s back in school and has lots of friends.  She’s big into hugs, hugs everybody now.  

Dr. M: Tell us about the way you use the medicine

Jane:  She uses the Simpson oil, at bedtime every night.  We mix up a quarter teaspoon of the oil into a half cup of peanut butter.  I microwave it to soften it up.  She gets a half teaspoon of that mix every night, a little before bed.  She sleeps from 8:30 at night to 6:30 in the morning, and gets up to go to school, and does fine all day.  

Dr. M: Does anybody know she’s using cannabis?

Jane:  We haven’t said anything to the teachers. The oncologist knows.  His staff told us “Just keep doing what you are doing.”  The brain scans have been stable now for a year, with some suggestion on the last one that the tumor may even be shrinking. She got scans every four months for a year, but now she’s going to a six-month schedule.  All of her blood work has also been good.

Dr. M: And are there other doctors she sees?

Jane:  We don’t see the pediatrician much, because she hasn’t been sick. I don’t know if it’s the oil, but she never gets colds, or sore throats, or earaches. We did not tell the psychologist. We have a home counselor, and she knows, but hasn’t said anything to the psychologist or anybody else. After we started the oil treatment she noticed the improvement immediately. She said, “What have you done with this child? She is so much better!”  I was afraid of having complications, and I said “Nothing,” but then I came clean about it the next time she asked. She has been really helpful in keeping it quiet. I am nervous about having problems.  My little girl doesn’t need that.  

Dr. M: How is Nikki doing in school?

Jane:   She is doing really well. She’s in kindergarten, a year behind for her age, but doing well with numbers and letters, and she can write her name.  She’s legally blind, but she can read the large print books they have for her.  Her behavior is so much better, but if I hold the Simpson oil for even one day, Nikki can’t sleep, and goes back to her same problems.  I have tried not giving it several times on weekends, and the sleeplessness and irritability come back right away.  

 
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