The Family Council on Drug Awareness
"Responsible decisions based on accurate information."
California mother battles system over marijuana muffins for sick child
© 2001 Nando Media, © 2001 Scripps Howard News Service
By WAYNE WILSON, Scripps Howard News Service
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 11, 2001 ) - A 7-year-old suffering from a brain disorder that has wracked his body with extreme changes in mood, energy and behavior is now at the center of a controversy that pits a caring parent against a protective bureaucracy on the emotionally charged battlefield of medical marijuana.
It's a war being conducted behind closed doors because it involves a child who officials want to take away from a mother who says the cannabis muffins she feeds her son have improved his life.
For more than four years, the child had been a terror at home, unmanageable at school and a challenge to doctors and nurses who had ministered to him during three psychiatric hospitalizations.
And according to a Web site published by his mother, she has tried everything to stabilize his illness, administering 19 drugs prescribed by 16 doctors over a span of four years.
When all failed, the homepage revealed, the mother turned to a home remedy approved by her son's pediatrician: muffins flavored by a pinch of marijuana.
Five weeks later, the results were in:
"My son for the first time in his life is laughing and loving life," the 30-year-old Rocklin, Calif., woman wrote. "He has very little to no angry outbursts, he is compliant, is doing great in school, and actually is making friends."
Not everyone is enamored of the woman's approach to her son's affliction, however. Placer County's Child Protective Services has "taken me to court," she said on the Web site, "with accusations of me abusing my son."
Authorities have filed a petition that, under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 300, could result in the boy's removal from his home and placement elsewhere as a dependent of the court.
Because such proceedings are confidential under state law, neither the mother nor her attorney would discuss the matter. County spokeswoman Anita Yoder said that the nature of the case precluded the county from commenting.
A hearing Tuesday was just one step in a series of Juvenile Court proceedings that will examine whether the boy is being harmed by the treatment. Neither side would say when the next hearing would be.
Proponents of medical marijuana have picked up on the controversy and are criticizing the county for overreaching in its war against Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. They suggest that the county apparently has taken the position that Proposition 215 does not apply to children.
The law permits Californians with a physician's approval to use marijuana for medical purposes.
Use of medical marijuana by children has never been studied, according to Drew Mattison, co-director of the Center for Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego.
According to the Web site, which was posted before the Juvenile Court hearing Tuesday, the boy's mother says he has bipolar disorder and also has been diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, conduct disorder, impulsive disorder, oppositional-defiant disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but none of the drugs prescribed ever worked.
"I have supported doctors and government agencies attempting anything to help my son," the mother said. "The adverse reactions these medications have had on him, not to mention the unknown of what they are doing to his system, is heart-wrenching to a mother."
Content (c) 2000-2004. Family Council on Drug Awareness (FCDA), El Cerrito CA