Five Year Old Girl Consumes Marijuana!
by aliwmohammed on September 17, 2013 - 10:56pm
I could not believe the title of the article when I read it. I'm usually not interested by the topic of the legalization of marijuana because, to me, every article on this subject reads like propaganda. Also, the lack of rational and rigorous scientific research does not enable me to take position. I chose this subject, however, because it forced me to think about a dilemma that I have never been confronted with before. Paige and Matt Figi faced a harsh decision indeed. Their daughter, Charlotte, suffers from an intense case of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Her parents report that she has had as high as a hundred seizures a week and that they have tried every clinical treatment possible. Through a desperate research, for any sort of therapy to ease their child's pain, they found that a special strain of marijuana might help their child's case. As a result they were forced to face an intense moral debate. Should we allow the use of marijuana to aid children with severe clinical conditions?
I believe that the use of medical marijuana should be allowed in a case like this. To quote the physician's oath (from the Declaration of Geneva): "I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient". Even though many doctors frown upon and don't believe in the benefits of medical marijuana, as healthcare professional, they should do whatever is in their power to help a patient. By this logic, their actions will be justified according to the doctrine of double effect since their intentions are good and the four requirements can easily be attained. In this particular case, all the "legal” treatments provided did not help the child's severe condition and might have even added to the discomfort and pain. In fact, this young girl's case was so severe, the doctor ordered her parents to consider a "do not resuscitate" form. This form intends that, in case the child's heart suddenly stopped, and then through her parents' consent, the healthcare team should “allow natural death". So, had it not been for her parent's choice to go against the law, Charlotte might have been under critical condition or even dead. Instead, her seizures have now decreased to 1 episode every couple of months.
On the other hand, the lack of research done on the long term effects of this plant on children is quite limited, contradictory, and misleading. the parents can seem to be quite irresponsible for allowing its use as a treatment for their child. To quote the physician's oath once again: "I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession". Thus we should not allow the use of drugs that have not been thoroughly researched. One can argue that despite the decrease in the symptoms of the child's malady, the plant can have negative effects on the development of the child's brain. According to the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), when marijuana is consumed during pregnancy, there is an increase in the risk of development of neurobehavioral problems for the baby. These problems include, lack of attention; memory loss; and inefficient problem solving to name a few. It is safe to assume that these consequences might be slightly similar for children aged at 5 years old and above since their brains have not yet been fully developed.
In any case, the use of medical marijuana will always be controversial. The other important question involving this case would be: Is it right for the government to restrict the research on medical marijuana?