Parents are fully responsible for the well-being of their children. This principle stands behind a number of legislative regulations, policies, and laws, and it is also applied in the case when parents have to decide whether they will allow using medical marijuana by their children. In JJ’s situation, his mother had tried everything possible before she decided to choose the option of using medical marijuana for the boy. From the details of the situation, it is evident that the woman’s interest is to do her best to provide her son with medication that is able to bring him relief. From the case information, the fact, that the outcomes of using marijuana for medical purposes are only positive, is clearly seen. Thus, the question of why the state authorities decided to persecute the boy’s mother for using medical marijuana to help his son appears to be logical. In the following paper, the issue of the parents’ rights in choosing the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of their children will be discussed. Overall, after the evaluation of the situation, it appears that treatment strategies based on using medical marijuana are supported by the state law (California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1999), and are also approved morally and ethically.
The issue of whether parents may decide for their children in using medical marijuana is a complex problem, which includes a number of minor issues such as the issue of whether the medical use of marijuana is justified by therapeutic practice, the issue of whether parents may make such important decisions for their children as taking in drugs even for the medical purposes, and the issue of what should be a position of the state when parents decide to utilize a medical marihuana therapy for their children. JJ’s case shows that all of these complicated issues may be solved at times. First of all, in JJ’s situation, it is clear that the use of marijuana is fully justified medically because the boy is experiencing significant improvements in his behavior, his physical condition, and academic results. In addition, the peculiarities of the situation, in which the boy has appeared, correspond to the standards of California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1999, and thus, JJ’s mother has a legitimate right to use medical marijuana for her son’s treatment. Such a conclusion can be made because the facts of the case prove that (1) JJ is seriously ill; (2) his condition is getting more and more complicated, and usual drugs do not help, but they only make the boy’s condition even worse by adding more symptoms and epiphenomena; (3) medical marijuana really helps the boy; (3) JJ’s physician approves using medical marijuana in his case; and (4) JJ’s mother is giving the boy small doses of the drug on a daily basis, and she does so under the strict control from the boy’s physician. According to O’Brien and Clark (2002, p. 12), JJ’s mother’s actions are justified as “both law and morality respect the autonomy of parents to determine medical care for children…California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1999 allows a primary caregiver…to use marijuana to treat an illness for which drug can provide relief”. Besides, the concerns by the government, that allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes may make young people believe that taking drugs is a good practice and a normal option, are not relevant in JJ’s case. This is so because JJ’s health condition is very bad, and his mother resorted to the use of the most diversified medical approaches, ranging from medical drug therapy to behavioral medication strategies, and everything was of no help to the boy. Hence, in JJ’s situation, the marijuana treatment is not a reason for children and young people to believe that using marijuana is something normal or something that is acceptable recreationally and may be good for an individual. On the contrary, it is one of the final options that the family had to make use of use because there was no other choice. The following comment by O’Brien and Clark (2002, p. 12) adds more details to understand why in JJ’s life situation, it is permissible to use medical marijuana: “this is not the case of a minor who smokes pot recreationally, far from public view. The message here is that marijuana, like other drugs, is a medication that must be used carefully and responsibly, not abused”. Therefore, the decision to use medical marijuana in JJ’s situation by his mother is well-weighted and approved by numerous arguments. In the case of this boy, his mother should not be persecuted by the state as she is merely trying to help her son, and does so in accordance with the state law. So, in a situation of this kind (the situation of JJ is meant), it is a parent’s right to allow a child to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Someone may oppose the above-made conclusion by stating that JJ’s mother did not try using Marinol before proceeding to marijuana. However, using Marinol may not be a good option for JJ’s family. This is explained by the fact that although this drug is medically approved, and is not accepted as a ‘traditional drug for abusing’, but is even allowed by the Food and Drug Administration, this medicine has many side effects. In particular, it is very expensive. It costs around $550 for one hundred 10-milligram capsules. It can be hardly possible that a mother, who must take care of a very sick child on her own, may have such an amount of money on a regular basis. Besides, the effect of Marinol on a patient can be too strong in the very beginning, and then it may wear off immediately. Thus, there is a ground to believe that Marinol will not become a good treatment for JJ.
Nonetheless, many people may say that such extraordinary cases as JJ’s one are rather rare, and as parents have no other options in them, they may choose to use medical marijuana, but for the other parents, this option should be limited. This position is justified because some cases are registered when parents were using the medical marijuana, prescribed to their children for their own abusing purposes (“Exposing the Myth” par. 8). In addition, the use of medical marijuana is not always justified from the point of view of its treatment outcomes for a patient as it happens that marijuana has no desired effect on him or her. Moreover, it only causes dependence on strong drugs and makes a patient look for bigger doses or stronger drugs. Finally, by legalizing the right to choose the option of medical marijuana by parents, the state may create a precedent for a number of serious juridical issues. The trustworthiness of such a conclusion can be supported by the following example: “Robert Raich, an attorney who argued for the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative, stated that the Supreme Court’s opinion had not addressed several remaining constitutional questions including the rights of states to set their own laws on the medicinal use of marijuana” (Longley, 2001, par. 9).
In conclusion, it should be stated that using marihuana for medical purposes is an ambiguous matter, which has multiple proponents and opponents. Generally, medical specialists are not sure about the balance between the pros and cons of using marihuana for the sake of treatment, and they state that each particular case has its own outcomes (“Medical marijuana pros/cons” par. 2). Thus, the fact that the state law limits parents’ empowerment to use medical marijuana for the treatment of their children is well justified. However, from the cases of such children as JJ, it is evident that at times, parents should be permitted to choose an option of medical marijuana for their children. The general rule for these cases should be developed including the importance for such families to correspond to the following criteria: (1) the child is very sick; (2) all the other available options are tried for no result; (3) the child’s physician approves using medical marijuana in his or her case; (4) the condition of the child is significantly approved by means of utilizing medical marijuana; (5) marijuana is taken under the strict control of medical specialists and parents. Only if all of these important conditions are met, a parent has the right to choose to allow one’s child to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Exposing the Myth of Medical Marijuana. (n. d.). Web.
Longley, R. (2001). Supreme Court Upholds Medical Marijuana Ban. Web.
Medical marijuana pros/cons. (n. d.). Web.
O’Brien, K., & Clark P. A., (2002). Mother and son: The case medical marijuana/commentaries. The Hastings Center Report; Hastings-on-Hudson, 5(11), 11-13.