Photo by Marie Myung-Ok LeeBefore you judge or jump to conclusions, you might want to hear this one out. Marie Myung-Ok Lee feeds her autistic son J. marijuana-based tea and cookies because he is in pain and has anxiety and because that pain and anxiety lead to aggression and that aggression means he cannot learn in school or experience everyday happinesses.
Marie Myung-Ok Lee has written a series of essays about giving her autistic son medical marijuana. Read on for more of this family's story.
No mother goes into parenthood thinking about baking her child cookies that are made with olive oil made from pot. It's just not something we think about as mothers. However, if and when the day comes that medical marijuana becomes the antidote for your child's severe stomach pain and an array of behavioral issues that impede in his learning and his happiness, a mother's outlook may change. As in the case of Marie Myung-Ok Lee, marijuana may become a savior of sorts.
In her first essay on the subject "Why I Give My 9-Year-Old Pot," Marie writes:
My son J. has autism. He's also had two serious surgeries for a spinal cord tumor and has an inflammatory bowel condition, all of which may be causing him pain, if he could tell us. He can say words, but many of them -- "duck in the water, duck in the water" -- don't convey what he means. For a time, anti-inflammatory medication seemed to control his pain. But in the last year, it stopped working. He began to bite and to smack the glasses off my face. If you were in that much pain, you'd probably want to hit someone, too.
And then she goes on to summarize studies on marijuana uses, ending on the most compelling:
Dr. Lester Grinspoon, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who has been researching cannabis for 40 years, says he has yet to encounter a case of marijuana causing a death, even from lung cancer.
Marie started J. on medical marijuana tea and cookies in May 2009, and by October, she reported many positive behavioral changes. For one, J. used to eat his shirts (yes, eat) due to a horrible case of pica. This behavior stopped immediately with the use of medical marijuana. Within a month or two of using the pot, after a year of roughly 30 to 50 aggressions in a school day, his teachers happily presented charts with several days of zero aggressions. He also started riding the bus, previously a roller-coaster ride of behavioral problems for J., without a problem.
I don’t consider marijuana a miracle cure for autism. But as an amateur herbalist, I do consider it a wonderful, safe botanical that allows J. to participate more fully in life without the dangers and sometimes permanent side effects of pharmaceutical drugs ... Free from pain, J. can go to school and learn. And his violent behavior won’t put him in the local children’s psychiatric hospital -- a scenario all too common among his peers.
Her third and most recent essay on Slate chronicles the deterioration of J's behavioral improvements when their grower couldn't immediately get the strain that worked best for J. While this was devastating, it also helped them to understand how well medical marijuana was really working for their son.
What do you think about medical marijuana being prescribed for children? Do you see this plant's benefits on par with more traditional medications given to kids?