It’s no secret that getting stoned is kind of a North American pastime — almost half of all Americans have used marijuana at least once. The state of Colorado made history when it decriminalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012. Now, between full decriminalization and decriminalization for medical use or possession, there are only 23 states where marijuana use is totally illegal. And although federal law is still blocking marijuana decriminalization in Canada, surveys have shown that almost 60% of Canadians are for making it legal, and for some legit reasons. Lauded for its therapeutic properties for relaxation and pain relief, millions of people are able to cope with a chronic illness or medication condition thanks to marijuana. It’s been especially popular among those suffering from cancer, making harsh treatments like chemotherapy much more bearable.
But the lines get kind of blurred when it comes to kids. Is it okay for an adult to give a child any kind of mind-altering substance? Minnesota mom Angela Brown started giving her son medical cannabis oil to ease his discomfort from a traumatic brain injury. Brown reported that after just a few drops of oil daily, her son’s muscle spasms were relieved, as well as his tendencies to self-harm. Laws decriminalizing the medical use of marijuana are set to come into effect in Minnesota in July of 2015, but since Brown openly admitted to giving her son doses of oil before this, she facing two gross misdemeanor charges, including child endangerment. Each charge carries a penalty of one-year imprisonment and a $3,000 fine — yikes.
“I mean, you finally find something that works for your child, that takes the pain away, and I had to give it up because I had a fear of going to jail,” Brown explained, “because how am I supposed to take care of my child?”
“I’m going to be the best example that I can be of what medicinal cannabis can do, not only for my son but anybody that is suffering,” she said in an interview with a Twin Cities news outlet.
Similarly, earlier this month an Australian father is facing imprisonment after giving his 2-year-old, cancer-stricken daughter cannabis oil in food to relieve her pain. Marijuana possession, sale and use continues to be totally illegal in Australia, even if for medicinal purposes. He was charged with supplying a dangerous drug to a minor and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. An online petition for his pardon has garnered over 155,000 signatures since.
The interesting thing about these parents is that they are totally open about their decisions, choosing to be accountable to the public as they see nothing wrong with administering what they see as a natural, healthier and more effective alternative to harsh pharmaceutical alternatives, including opiates.
VICE magazine released a documentary entitled “Stoned Kids” in 2013, wherein this debate is addressed. It’s been viewed over 3 million times on YouTube, opening an online discussion about whether or not it’s okay to put mild hallucinogens into not-fully-formed bodies. Is it alright even if the parents themselves are arguing that weed quells epileptic episodes and literally shrinks tumors?
It’s definitely a gray area. On the one hand, If we get legalistic with this line of thinking, you could even argue that letting your kid drink caffeinated soda or giving your child painkillers is questionable. On the other hand, parents are charged with the health, safety and comfort of their children, but to what end? Is it okay for adults to break laws and administer unregulated substances so kids can live pain-free? Where should we draw the line?
CmdStore readers from outside North America, what are the laws and attitudes towards cannabis use like in your countries? Would you give your chronically ill kid a toke or two to help them enjoy being a kid?