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          Sierra watched in horror as her 3-year-old boy grew violently ill in response to radiation and chemotherapy. Diagnosed with Leukemia, Landon Riddle’s doctors recommended the most aggressive treatment available. Sierra felt helpless as her son began vomiting dozens of times a day and endured constant pain, causing him to go 25 days straight without eating. While living in Utah, Sierra had few options. The liquid morphine, Ativan, Xanax and Promethexane that Landon was taking did not seem to be helping. Feeling that her child’s life was in jeopardy she began considering alternative treatments.

As a last ditch effort Sierra moved her family to Colorado Springs to utilize the state’s liberal marijuana laws. She began administering liquid Cannabidol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to her desperately ill child and was shocked by the results. “Within four weeks we could see the improvement,” Sierra told KRDO. Landon regained his energy and his appetite, and his cancer went into remission. Instead of taking over 20 pharmaceutical pills a day, Sierra now gives him 4 cannabis capsules. She has also stopped his radiation and chemotherapy.

Although Landon has been responding well to his new treatments, Sierra’s move has raised serious concerns among his doctor’s. The children’s hospital in Colorado Springs was concerned enough to get child protective services involved. According to her facebook account, Sierra will be meeting with them on Wednesday to argue for the efficacy of Landon’s medical marijuana treatments.

THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant, has been shown to reduce the feeling of nausea and chronic pain. The synthesized version of THC, Marinol, has been available for medical use in the United States since the mid 80’s. Further research has shown that CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, not only provides significant pain relief, but may also stop the growth of many kinds of cancer. Though there have been a growing number of studies illustrating the efficacy of marijuana in treating a variety of illnesses, political and social factors have stunted rigorous and unbiased research in the United States.

(related: NIDA changes its stance on marijuana)

Public interest in medical marijuana continues to outpace litigation and legitimate research, forcing parents and patients like Sierra to put themselves on the front-lines of a tumultuous cultural war. In a recent statement to CBS Denver, Children’s Hospital Colorado noted that young patients suffering from lymphoblastic leukemia treated at their facility have a 90 percent survival rate. Riddle on the other hand, feels that their treatment was not effective for her son and wishes to continue medical marijuana therapy.

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