By Josh Mur
The medicinal benefits of cannabis used to inspire heated debate—used to. With ongoing discoveries and successful treatments, denying the efficacy of cannabis treatment is no longer a matter of opinion but, rather, a complete fallacy. Around 100 years of propaganda, fear-mongering, and criminalization has attempted to not only discredit the plant’s medicinal value, but to portray the virtually harmless flower as dangerous, as well.
Thankfully, those days of irrational fear and denial are slowly coming to an end. In fact, the steady shift in the general public’s perspective on cannabis has been significant enough for a growing number of parents to consider cannabis oil as a viable option to treat their sick children. Such is the case with Bella Chinonis.
Bella is a six-year-old girl from Michigan who suffers from a rare condition called 1p36 Deletion Syndrome—a disease that can lead to a series of very serious health issues including inhibited speech abilities, developmental delays, and chronic seizures. In addition to dealing with her rare disease, Bella also struggles with kidney failure, several holes in her heart, and until just a few months ago, she was unable to walk.
After several pharmaceutical treatments failed and she was denied a medical cannabis prescription from her neurologist, Bella’s parents sought help from doctors in Texas and Detroit that were actually willing to help. As one may have guessed, this was not an easy task. In the state of Michigan, it is policy that any patients under the age of 18 must seek examination and approval for medical marijuana from not one, but two doctors. Thankfully, after her examination, Bella received a recommendation for cannabis oil.
So did the cannabis oil help 6-year-old Bella? According to her mother, it absolutely did.
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“She can stand now. She responds to voices and she loves the movie ‘Frozen.’ She didn’t do that before and the only thing different we are doing is giving her medical marijuana,” she said.
Although Bella’s disease cannot be cured, her introduction to cannabis oil has enhanced not only her own life, but the lives of her family members. Bella’s parents no longer have to see their daughter struggling to stand or remain unresponsive to the broken hearted people around her.
Bella isn’t the only child to be effectively treated with cannabis oil, nor is she the youngest. Dr. William Courtney of the Cannabis International Foundation announced in 2012 that his youngest patient was an 8-month-old infant with an inoperable brain tumor. After 2 months of treatment that put small amounts of cannabis oil on the child’s pacifier, there was enough of a reduction in the tumor’s size that the oncologist allowed the treatment to continue. By 8 months, the tumor had virtually disappeared, leading people to dub the child a “miracle baby.”
These are not isolated incidents. Cannabis increasingly serves as an effective medicine for sick children—despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated it does not support cannabis treatment for children because of the drug’s negative effects on brain development in people below the age of 21. However, Dr. Courtney disagrees, stating that the use of non-psychoactive cannabis allows for significantly larger doses that allow the medical benefits to take effect much faster. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Dr. William Courtney states:
There is a lot of information out there that has been built up with the intent on causing confusion […] the non-psychoactive use of the plant really facilitates a lot of its benefits because it allows elevated dosage.”
The idea of giving children marijuana as medicine may still seem taboo to some, but one can’t help but wonder why this is so. Is the power of fear and propaganda that much more powerful than the ability to heal sick children? Are outdated notions and faulty studies more reputable than direct observation of successful treatments? Why is it that the U.S. government—the very institution that has perpetuated these absurd misconceptions—has admitted that cannabis can cure cancer…yet there is still a naïve herd of clueless Americans that sees the D.A.R.E. seminar they sat through in 3rd grade as more credible?