Controversy erupts over 7 year-old cancer patient’s use of marijuana

A seven year-old Oregon girl made headlines this week as the story of her parents giving her marijuana to help ease her suffering from leukemia went viral and now doctors are weighing on whether 7 is just too young for medicinal marijuana.

Dr. Caroline Hastings, from the Oakland Children’s Hospital, is going public, discouraging other parents from giving their kids pot. “I don’t think it’s correct to use cannabis in this way,” she said. “The most effective way to use medication like this is in concert with medical team to make sure that there’s no interference with any other medication to treat the underlying disease and to make sure it’s safe. It’s not used to treat cancer as the article may indicate it’s used safely to treat nausea induced by chemotherapy.”

The article referenced in Hasting’s statement appeared in The Oregonian and talked about the young girl’s daily intake of marijuana capsules or marijuana lace ginger snaps as part of her participation, along with 52 other children, in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.

According to Oregon law, a pediatrician does not have to monitor the dosage, rather it is up to the parents to determine the frequency, dosage and means of administration of the drug. There are also no standards regarding quality, potency or safety of the marijuana purchased.

While Hastings disagrees with the way things are handled in Oregon, she does believe that marijuana can be effectively used to help children suffering from cancer but maintains that it should be administered under a doctor’s close supervision. She went on to say that she herself has used marijuana to treat children in the past but it’s not the first course of action as there are other drugs that effectively treat chemo-related nausea. “Parents have inquired about using cannabis…we’re open to that make sure they work with us.”

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