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Would you give your sick child, Marijuana?

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Zaki Jackson was 6 months old when doctors diagnosed him with a form of epilepsy so severe that it sparked as many as 250 seizures a day.

For years his mom, Heather Jackson, feared for his life. “He would stop breathing,” she told NBC chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman. “All the air leaves his lungs and he does not take another breath until that seizure is over.”

After 10 years and 17 medications, Zaki wasn’t getting any better. Then, finally, his doctor wrote a prescription for a medication that calmed the electrical storms in Zaki’s brain. The surprise was that it wasn’t for a standard anti-seizure medication -- it was a prescription for marijuana.

Zaki’s case isn’t unusual as it may seem. Eighteen states, plus Washington, D.C., allow use of medical marijuana. A number of them provide prescriptions to children, with parental supervision, to treat a host of ills, ranging from autism to cancer to seizures.

Critics, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, argue that the remedy hasn’t been clinically tested in kids and might have some long-term ramifications.

Zaki’s parents were surprised at first and a bit taken aback. “We are Christians,” Jackson said. “We are conservative. And we’re using medical marijuana. That’s a kind of big hump for people to get over. Despite the stigma associated with cannabis, we owed it to Zaki to give it a try.”

Jackson said the results were immediate and stunning. “I probably stared at him for a good three hours after his first dose and then I fell asleep. I didn’t feel any seizures after his first dose,” his mother said.

In fact, it’s been eight months since Zaki’s last seizure and he's finally starting to do normal kid activities, like ride a swing.

Zaki's pot is provided specifically for him by a team of brothers who legally grow medical marijuana. It has been bred to have low levels of TCH, but higher levels of another cannabinoid called cannabidiol, or CBD.

While both cannabinoids impact pain, nausea and seizures, CBD isn’t psychoactive, said Dr. Margaret Gedde of the Clinicians’ Institute for Cannabis Medicine. That means that kids using this type of marijuana won’t get high.

Cannabinoids work by hijacking normal brain circuitry.

In other words, the cannabinoids in pot are very similar to substances our own brains naturally make, called endocannabinoids. These substances serve to quiet excessive activity, whether it’s in the immune system, in the gut or in the nervous system, Gedde explained to NBCNews.com.

When cells become overactive, a switch is thrown and endocannabinoids are released. Once they lock on to receptors in the brain, “a message is sent to tell the cells to calm down,” she said. “It’s a balancing system and it’s what keeps seizures from happening in healthy brains. In these kids the system is overwhelmed. It needs a little extra help.”

That’s where the pot comes in. For Zaki, it’s delivered in a syrup that he takes each day, which contains an extract of purified cannabis oil that is high in CBD, Gedde said.

While the drug seems to be working miracles for Zaki, some doctors believe its safety in children needs to be tested in clinical trials.

“I worry that we just don’t know enough about it,” said Dr. Sharon Levy, of the Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. “I think they’re putting their child at risk of long-term consequences of marijuana use that we don’t fully understand.”

There are plenty of examples of highly touted therapies that turned out to be ineffective, or in some cases downright harmful.

“A couple of generations ago physicians were recommending tobacco as a good method of relaxation or to relieve stress,” Levy said. “It seems unbelievable now.”

While clinical trials are all well and good, there are children like Zaki who need help right now, Gedde said, adding “medicine existed before the Food and Drug Administration.”

While there may still be some questions about the impact of marijuana on growing brains, “this is a substance that’s been used for thousands of years and it has a known safety profile,” Gedde said. “And there’s a long history of women using it in pregnancy. If there was some terrible defect that came up in children exposed in utero, we’d know about it by now.”

Ultimately, for a child like Zaki with a dangerous condition, even approved anti-seizure drugs can cause side effects, Gedde said.

For the Jacksons, it was an easy decision.

“Medical marijuana is definitely saving Zaki’s life,” his mother Heather said. “It’s saving his life and it’s giving him a quality of life."

 

Would you give it to your child if they were sick? At what age would you consider giving it to them?

by on Jul. 10, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Replies (21-30):
ditsyjo
by Gold Member on Jul. 10, 2013 at 9:16 PM
If it was prescribed/recommended by their doctor I don't see the issue. Going out on the street and buying some for my kid's headache not so much.
mom4awesomekids
by Member on Jul. 10, 2013 at 9:17 PM
Yes no questions asked.
mama23brie
by on Jul. 10, 2013 at 9:19 PM
Yep. Pot is a miracle plant. Any one who still calls it a drug, like the 'reefer madness' campaign did, is an idiot.
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PookiePanda
by on Jul. 10, 2013 at 9:21 PM

AWE....SOME! Absolutely!

MusherMaggie
by Member on Jul. 10, 2013 at 9:34 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting Aislinn:

 Hmmm. Would I give my child a medication from Big Pharma, that probably has a list of side effects the length of my forearm or would I use a plant that has very little side effects and has never been a primary cause of death, which even Advil and Tylenol cannot say, not even close. Hmmm.. Let me think about that one. Yes. In a heart beat. The "doctors" have no issues shoving drugs down peoples throats that have not been properly tested in clinical trials, but marijuana? We just don't KNOW. Bullshit they do not know. They just know their kick backs get really small when they do NOT come from Big Phrama. America, wake up, please.



This!!!

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dallascowboys82
by Member on Jul. 10, 2013 at 9:34 PM
Yes I would. Totally off the story but my dh uses mj for pain. He was having problems with his back and legs. The dr told him he needed surgery to correct his problem but it was a 50-50 shot. 50 percent the surgery could fix the problem. 50 percent the surgey could make him loose feeling from the waist down. My husband doesn't wanna risk loosing all feeling from the waist down. So he did research and talkin to the dr, dh was approved for medical mj. I have seen a huge difference, he isn't in pain, he can get out of bed on his own, and he is able to play with our children.
So I am all for it, now I have a friends son that would have seizure's about 20 to 30 times a day, he would go into a coma like state for up to 30 mins. It was the most scary thing I ever seen. I freaked out cause he stopped breathing. I yelled for my friend she gave him a shook and he gasp for his first breath.
He is now on medica mj (Mary Jane as I call it) and he has maybe one or two seizures a week.
So I am all for it..I see the health benefits for it, not to just get high, but enough that the child/adult can have a better life.
sweetiebell
by New Member on Jul. 10, 2013 at 9:41 PM
It depends on the circumstance. In that circumstance yes! I'm so glad he found something
tyrelsmom
by Gold Member on Jul. 10, 2013 at 9:48 PM
Yes. It would have to be pretty extreme, but in their shoes I would do the same, for example.
Whovian82
by on Jul. 10, 2013 at 10:48 PM

Lets see...a natural pain reliever vs heavy duty medication?  yes..I absolutely would give my sick child weed. 

Momof2Stepof3
by Platinum Member on Jul. 10, 2013 at 10:49 PM

Yes

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