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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Medical Marijuana: Dad Says It Saved Two-Year-Old Son with Cancer

Posted By on Thu, May 5, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Cash Hyde
  • Cash Hyde

There are many ways to look at the story of two-year-old

brain-tumor survivor Cash Michael Hyde, whose father, Michael, secretly slipped

him medical marijuana oil in his feeding tube during chemotherapy last fall.

You could assume that the plant is an effective drug.

Chemotherapy left

Cash unable to eat for 40 days; he was racked with seizures that, doctors warned,

could lead to brain damage. Immediately after putting the marijuana oil in his

feeding tube, the seizures stopped and Cash's appetite returned, Mike Hyde told

ABC News.

And then a miracle happened.

A year after doctors found the 4.5-centimeter tumor wrapped around his

optical nerve, Cash was declared cancer-free last week. He returned home to Missoula, Montana from a

children's hospital in Salt Lake City four months after

the unauthorized medical marijuana treatment.

The other way of looking at this story is the medical community's complete unwillingness

to discuss their patient's recovery. No doctors -- including Cash's, who were

kept in the dark about the treatment by Mike Hyde -- would speak to ABC News

about the toddler's recovery, the news outlet reported. They wouldn't talk to SF

Weekly either.

All week, we've tried to talk to a local pediatric

expert, from UCSF, Stanford, and the California chapter of the American

Association of Pediatrics, to discuss the situation. No response from anyone, which is

odd since, in California, it's legal to give medical

marijuana to a child with a serious medical condition.

This is not the first time a news outlet has contacted the

experts at Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital asking about medical

pot, Robert Dicks, a spokesman with the hospital told us. "The last time, I

couldn't find any experts who had done any research [and was ergo willing to

talk]," Dicks says. "Nobody has any facts or figures to go on in

regards to this."

That will likely continue to be the case as long as marijuana

is illegal under federal law. It's impossible to conduct verifiable clinical

trials on a substance that the FDA won't regulate,

because the Drug Enforcement Administration is actively trying to purge it.

Medical marijuana and kids was discussed in an article last winter in the California Pediatrician, the American Academy of

Pediatrics's California chapter's publication of record.

"There are

anecdotal reports of the successful use of medical marijuana by adolescents for

the treatment of a variety of health conditions," wrote the article's

author, Dr. Seth Ammerman (who, we'd like to note, is a research professor at

the erstwhile-silent Packard Hospital at Stanford).

Does that mean kids should

try it? Not on Ammerman's recommendation. "There are no published studies

on the use of medical marijuana in the pediatric or adolescent patient

populations," he writes. "As with any other prescribed medication for

adults, children should not have access to medical marijuana."

At least that's the position of doctors -- publicly. Privately,

physicians can and do recommend medical cannabis as a treatment for children

with serious medical conditions, including cancer, according to local attorney Derek

St. Pierre.

One of Pierre's clients, a San Francisco medical cannabis

dispensary, once received a 13-year old cancer patient, with

a parent in tow. "They asked, 'What do we do?'" St. Pierre recalled.

"I said, 'Make insanely sure their paperwork [the recommendation from a

doctor] is in order. Quadruple check it.' If it is, there's really no reason to

deny it."

The dispensary, which St. Pierre did not name, has since

been providing medical marijuana to the teen, who always comes with a

parent, St. Pierre said. And it's legal. While most dispensaries in San

Francisco refuse to admit patients younger than 18 -- and others must restrict

entry to folks 21 and over to maintain a business permit in the neighborhood -- there's nothing in 1996 Compassionate

Use Act about an age requirement.

Technically, what Mike Hyde did to save his son's life was

illegal -- while the Hydes are residents of Montana, where medical marijuana is

legal (though Republicans in that state's legislature are working to overturn

the Montana's medical marijuana laws), Cash Hyde was in a hospital in Utah, which

does not have a medical marijuana law. Whether or not Hyde could face charges

of child endangerment "would revolve around the recommendation from the

doctor," St. Pierre said, "though I have never dealt with that

specific issue."

Yet the results are there -- on national television, now

that ABC's national affiliates have picked up on the story. When will the

medical community be willing to admit and embrace them publicly?

Probably as

soon as they -- and their insurers -- can be assured that they won't be locked

up or sued. Your move, Congress.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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