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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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?
soon as they -- and their insurers -- can be assured that they won't be locked
up or sued. Your move, Congress.