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Rare disease or not, Colorado teen can't have medical pot at school, not even a lozenge

February 10, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(Ed Andrieski / Associated…)

A Colorado teen with a rare neurological disease wants to do two things: Take the medical marijuana he needs to control his seizures and attend high school. Sounds simple, but, of course, it's anything but.

The drama playing out between the student and the school likely has little to do with the boy's disease -- described as diaphragmatic and axial myoclonus -- and more to do with the zero-tolerance policy regarding medical marijuana.

The Colorado Independent reported that the teen, whose name was not released, has been prescribed marijuana lozenges to control attacks that come on without warning. The Colorado Springs school district says the student can attend school -- as long as he doesn't take the medication. As of Thursday, the paper reports, the district also said it must abide by a state law that forbids possession or use of medical marijuana on school grounds. Note too that Colorado is a state that allows the use of medical marijuana.

So why does the student need the drug? The boy's dad, Shan Moore, described his son's condition as being "like hiccups on steroids," according to the paper. He said the marijuana lozenges help relieve spasms that can last up to 24 hours.

The National Institutes of Health describes myoclonus as a kind of hiccup or "sleep start" run amok. It says: "When more widespread, myoclonus may involve persistent, shock-like contractions in a group of muscles. Myoclonic jerking may develop in people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Myoclonic jerks commonly occur in persons with epilepsy, a disorder in which the electrical activity in the brain becomes disordered and leads to seizures."

The issue likely will get kicked up to the state level as activists and family members have been petitioning state legislators for help. And it likely will become a bigger media story too.

If you don’t have a position on medical marijuana, fine. But check out ProCon.org's exercise in rational exploration of the topic. It’s enlightening.

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