Medical marijuana is quickly becoming an accepted part of mainstream society. According to the most recent Gallup poll, a full 64% of Americans agree that marijuana should be made legal altogether; and even more support researching cannabis to find out more about its medicinal capabilities. But when most people think about medical marijuana, they tend to balk at the idea of children consuming cannabis. Even taking a medicinal approach, there’s a usually a huge cognitive dissonance involved in thinking about kids using marijuana. And yet, there have been multiple cases of parents with extremely ill children braving the odds to access medical marijuana and meeting with tremendous success. The story of Landon Riddle is the perfect example.
At the time of Newsweek’s in-depth feature on Landon Riddle, he was a 7-year-old boy dealing with the after-effects of a ravaging battle against leukemia. The aggressiveness of his leukemia necessitated drastic action, and his doctors believed a grueling regimen of chemotherapy (along with a cocktail of opiates and benzodiazepines) would beat the disease.
But Landon’s mom, Sierra, saw that the drugs weren’t just ineffective in treating his symptoms, they actually made Landon feel worse. These drugs can wreak havoc on even a fully grown adult, and Sierra felt utterly helpless against the symptoms tormenting her son.
Landon and his mom started their cannabis journey in their home state of Utah. The cancer in Landon’s blood ended up spreading into his brain, and a massive tumor developed in his chest. While the treatments for childhood leukemia are the result of decades of research, they take a serious toll on small bodies. Landon, though, seemed to exhibit even more negative side effects from the treatment than usual.
His small body was racked with up to 50 episodes of vomiting per day, which left his throat burned and swollen to the point where he couldn’t speak at all. And thanks to the chemotherapy, his immune system was next to useless and couldn’t even keep him from picking up a cold.
Within the first three months of his treatment, Landon had already shed half his body weight. Eating became impossible, so he was pumped full of vitamins and he suffered through blood and platelet transfusions. According to Sierra, the most heartbreaking part was the complete lack of progress. Her boy was dying, and there seemed to be little she could do.
Enter the Stanleys
As Landon’s symptoms increased and his outlook worsened, Sierra put a plea out on Facebook in an effort to find anything that would help her quickly fading son. She ended up making contact with the Stanleys, a Denver-based group of brothers who had created a special variety of cannabis oil to help relieve 6-year-old Charlotte Figi of her epilepsy. Their high-CBD oil managed to quell her symptoms dramatically, and Sierra Riddle was ready to do whatever it took to improve her son’s quality of life.
After a lengthy visit from the Stanleys, Sierra and Landon were ready to make the move necessary to access medical cannabis. Because medical marijuana isn’t legal in Utah, the Riddles ended up staying with the Stanleys for about a year. All the while, Landon went back and forth between Utah and Colorado to continue his chemo treatment.
Getting off Opiates
With the help of CBD oil, Landon was able to ease off his intimidating regimen of medications. And the better he got, the angrier Sierra Riddle became that the cannabis responsible for improving her son’s illness and quality of life was illegal. After multiple battles with CPS, Landon was finally granted the freedom to use medical cannabis, and became the youngest person to receive a medical marijuana card in Colorado.
Landon is still dealing with the traumatic side effects of his ineffective bouts of chemotherapy. But thanks to cannabis, he is coping with the PTSD and neurological ramifications of his original treatment. When most people think of children consuming cannabis, they get stuck on the idea that most people medicate by smoking. Landon, however, simply takes a puff or two from his CBD vape pen and goes about his business.
The Future of Medical Cannabis
The jury is still out on how CBD can affect the brains of growing children, largely due to the systematic rejection of cannabis as a medical agent. But stories still abound of children with debilitating diseases gaining significant relief through medical marijuana regimens. Children consuming cannabis still makes many people uncomfortable, but most of them simply don’t understand the extent of marijuana’s health benefits for chronic disease. And CBD products, which contain little to no THC, are the perfect way to reap those benefits without exposing kids to the psychoactive side of cannabis.
Despite mounting evidence, most states and other governing bodies continue to reject cannabis as a medical asset to suffering children. As medical marijuana continues to gain widespread acceptance, perhaps the concept of sick children consuming marijuana will become accepted as a legitimate way to ease pain, and promote healing.
Article by: Spencer Grey