Seven-year-old Mykayla Comstock is one of 51 children under the age of 17 who are currently enrolled in Oregon’s medical marijuana program. After Mykayla was diagnosed with leukemia and began chemotherapy, her mother filed medical marijuana paperwork with the state so that she could help ease her daughter’s pain with capsules filled with cannabis oil — a decision she credits with helping effectively treat Mykayla’s cancer.
Erin Purchase began giving her daughter about a gram of cannabis oil a day in capsule form, one pill in the morning and one at night, despite encountering resistance from Mykayla’s first doctor. Purchase told ABC News that doctor “blew up” and told her to transfer Mykayla to another facility. But Purchase says she knows she’s making the right decision for her daughter:
At first, Mykayla wasn’t responding well to her treatment, and doctors said she might need a bone marrow transplant. Then she started taking the cannabis oil pills. her mother said. By early August, Mykayla was in remission and the transplant was no longer necessary.
“I don’t think it’s just a coincidence,” Purchase said. “I credit it with helping — at least helping — her ridding the cancer from her body.” [...]
Before Mykayla was diagnosed, Purchase had read about another young boy with cancer who received cannabis oil for nearly two years because his parents believed it kept him alive so much that they defied doctors’ orders and broke Montana law to give it to him. She said she knew it was what she would do for her children if they ever got sick.
Cash “Cashy” Hyde died Nov. 14 at four years old, but his parents say he was never in any pain because of the oil.
U.S. medical professionals typically warn against using cannabis to treat children, since there haven’t been widespread clinical trials to study its long-term effects on development or its impact on the immune system. But more than 200 medical studies have documented cannabis’ overall medical benefits, and some international studies even suggest that the active ingredient in marijuana could be effective at fighting cancer cells specifically. Medical marijuana advocacy groups point out that the issue is largely cyclical — the federal government often won’t invest in additional research because the drug is listed as Schedule I, while working to reclassify it is an uphill battle without further studies to help scientists reach a consensus.
Regardless of the political fight over medical marijuana, some parents like Purchase do rely on cannabis to alleviate their children’s pain. And Purchase believes it’s been essential in helping her daughter get better. When McKayla skips her capsule, she often suffers from nausea and even the smell of food can make her throw up — but when McKayla takes her cannabis dose, it’s a different story: “She doesn’t use pain pills or nausea pills. She has not even lost a single pound since her diagnosis.”