More MS news articles for Dec 2001

California mother to continue baking marijuana muffins for 8-year-old

December 5, 2001 1:02 p.m. EST
By WAYNE WILSON, Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A mother will continue giving marijuana treatments to her mentally disturbed 8-year-old son after a judge dismissed a petition that could have removed the child from her home.

"I can't believe it's finally over," the Rocklin woman declared after a brief appearance before Judge Colleen Nichols in Placer Superior Court Tuesday.

Although the court did not endorse her approach to therapy, it did conclude there is no need for an order protecting the boy from neglect or mistreatment, the woman said.

The only condition attached to the dismissal, she said, is her agreement to seek treatment from a pediatrician at least every six months.

Child Protective Services had stepped in last July once it learned of the treatment, accusing her of being unfit and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The judge allowed her to continue the treatments while the case was being decided.

Neither the county nor an attorney representing the mother would comment on the proceedings because such matters are confidential under state law.

To protect the identity of the boy, neither his name nor the name of his mother are being published.

The woman said she has been using marijuana to treat her son's afflictions since May, when, as a last resort, she turned away from the more conventional drugs, "none of which ever worked."

Since shortly after the boy's birth, diagnoses offered by 16 different physicians suggest he has been suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He demonstrated extreme changes in mood, energy and behavior, began biting and hitting other children and was literally unmanageable, his mother said.

"By the time he was 2, he'd been in and out of well over seven or eight preschools," she said. "And by the time he was 4, he'd been banned from all of Placer County's child-care system."

His brain disorder on three different occasions led to psychiatric hospitalizations, she said.

Treatment with numerous conventional medications resulted in adverse reactions that were "heart-wrenching," said the mother, who stumbled upon the idea of marijuana therapy in a desperate Internet search.

Although federal law still considers marijuana to be an illegal substance, Proposition 215, an initiative passed by California voters in 1996, legalized, under state law, the medical use of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

Initially, the mother prepared the boy's "medicine" in the form of muffins, which she fed him regularly.

The results were immediate, she said.

Her son's behavior improved markedly. His mood swings leveled off. He developed friendships with children in the neighborhood.

And this year he had his first ever birthday party.

From the time of her first court appearance in early July, the mother has been maintaining her son's treatment with the approval of the court, she said.

The boy doesn't know he's receiving marijuana, she said. To him, it's just medicine.

It hasn't been a cure-all, the mother explained.

"He still has challenges. I expect him to have bad days. But he's maintained more than he has on any other medication," she said.

Copyright © 2001 Scripps Howard News Service