Shedding the Stigma at Toronto Sick Kids’ Hospital?

In Advocacy, Children, Feature Stories by Melanie TsikosLeave a Comment

The subject of marijuana is tricky enough as it is without introducing children into the mix, but it’s necessary because there are significant benefits to be had. Granted it’s anecdotal, but it is becoming more and more documented, and now even the American Association of Pediatrics is recommending to the Drug Enforcement Agency that cannabis should be removed from the highly restrictive Schedule I classification so more research can be performed.  Many are still afraid to talk about the benefits of medical marijuana and its effects on children, but with good reason given the patchwork of enforcement variations across the United States and in other countries.

In one case study performed by the Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids’, colloquially) in Toronto, cannabinoid resin extract proved to be an effective treatment for a 14-year old patient’s aggressive acute lymphoblastic leukemia, whereas bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy and radiation proved ineffective after 34 grueling months. This type of treatment is well known to be taxing, invasive and painful for adult patients. Now imagine putting your fourteen-year-old through that.

Time Magazine profiled this subject in a recent article and documentary entitled “Pot Kids”. Focusing on children with epilepsy, the researchers found that parents are turning to medical marijuana to help when mainstream medicine is failing. Epilepsy, for example, is an illness that has seen relatively little medical advancement in the past two decades despite the disease being more common than autism, multiple sclerosis or a breadth of other neurological conditions. In the United States, epilepsy is underrepresented in medical research and treatment funding. Parents are given little choice but to seek out alternate – and, evidently, more effective – treatments.

Parents are then faced with an unfortunate moral question of whether or not to subscribe to the mainstream treatments provided by our public healthcare. Many parents and physicians choose to move ahead with medical marijuana rather than wait for the stigma to dissolve.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Damien D. 

Leave a Comment