7-Year old girl treated with cannabis: Helpful or harmful?

By: Jennifer Pretty Dec 04, 2012
  Editorial
children and marijuana

I think it’s fairly safe to say that Canadians are pretty lenient when it comes to policies regarding marijuana. In fact, according to a poll released by Toronto based Forum Research, 66% of Canadians, aged 18 and over, voted to legalize marijuana. Forget surveys, some of our neighbours to the south actually went to the polls to voice their feelings on the topic.

It turns out that people living in both Washington state and Colorado aren’t opposed to coming home after a long day of work and smoking marijuana, instead of say, cracking a beer. Both states made history when they became the first to legalize pot, which means every adult is free to indulge in recreational use of cannabis.

A few more states have been a little looser about allowing the use of marijuana to be used for medical reasons.  Depending on the state, those with cancer, glaucoma and other chronic conditions have for a few years now been able to light up to keep the pain and nausea associated with these diseases at bay. When these laws were passed, lawmakers gave little thought to imposing age restrictions for a variety of reasons. It probably never dawned on anyone that someone would give cannabis to a child because typically when we think of something like cancer, we tend to envision an adult. According to the Oregonian, 52 children in Oregon State are currently being treated with medical marijuana.

This article is about one of those children.

Mykayla Comstock suffers from Leukemia. She sometimes can’t eat or sleep following her chemotherapy treatments. I have known a few adults who have undergone chemo who described it as living through hell. I can only imagine what it must be like on a child.

Ask ten people their opinions about this topic and chances are good that they’ll be split down the middle. Not surprisingly, Mykayla’s mother and father take different sides. Mykayla’s mother is thankful for the medical treatment, attributing it to being a main factor in the abatement of her daughter’s symptoms. Her father, on the other hand, is concerned about the effects that the marijuana will have on her young and still-developing brain.

The Pros:

Nobody wants to see this or any other child suffer. It is difficult enough to stomach watching an adult battle cancer; certainly a seven-year old girl deserves to live pain free, right? Not only that, but her mother has claimed that it’s restoring her childhood. The pain that had previously stolen her spirit has, in her mother’s observation, been restored. Mykayla’s seems to forget about her condition and enjoy life. Who could want to take that away from her?

The Cons:

The concerns that Mykayla’s father has for his daughter seem equally compelling. Mykayla smokes one gram of cannabis every day to cope with the symptoms. This is equivalent to smoking ten joints per day. Studies have shown that marijuana can impair memory, both long-term and short-term. It can, in some patients (although rare) induce states of paranoia. Although one study concludes that smoking cannabis can have a damaging affect on a person’s intellect, other studies contradict these findings. Given the state of her still-developing brain, does anyone know for certain that the use of marijuana at such a young age won’t impair her future cognitive abilities?

Essentially, it seems the debate is open to prioritizing the current happiness of Mykayla and other children in this situation.

 

Until next time,

Peace, love and vitamin C!

 

Jennifer Pretty began her career as the director of artist development for a well-known Canadian music label. Branching out on her own, she then started her own PR business “Pretty Media Management” planning and hosting various charity, entertainment and fashion events. As a dance and fitness class enthusiast Jennifer is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. She also loves to cook, travel, spend time with family and friends and most importantly living life to the fullest!