The use of cannabis to manage certain medical conditions has been a subject of debate for years. However, there's a growing number of individuals who have opted for medical marijuana to treat symptoms, including pain and anxiety, that accompany chronic disorders and life-threatening diseases like cancer.
As of April 2017, medical marijuana has been approved for use in 29 states, but there's still a lot of taboo surrounding its use, despite the claims that it improves quality of life for many people.
The topic is even more controversial when it involves children. More and more parents have been turning to cannabis to ease their ill children's discomfort, but of course, not everyone is embracing this treatment form.
For 11-year-old Ashley Surin from Illinois, obtaining medical marijuana was half the battle. Ashley was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was just two-years-old, but after a period of extensive chemotherapy, she beat the cancer. However, the intense treatments have caused her to develop semi-regular seizures.
When traditional medications didn't suffice, Ashley's parents requested that the doctors prescribe her with medical marijuana. Recent studies have shown cannabis to be an effective treatment for a third of epilepsy patients who have a treatment-resistant form of the condition.
"We're amazed with her progress," Ashleys mom, Maureen told NPR.
Unfortunately, not everyone was on board with Ashley's treatment plan, which resulted in the family having to face a legal battle.
Despite improvements in her health, Ashley wasn't allowed to bring the controversial drug to school. Her symptoms are severe enough for her to require medication "at any time during the school day," but that wasn't a good enough excuse for the school to break the law.
It's against the law in Illinois to use the drug in school or have staff administer it. This means Ashley would go for hours without her medication and risked the chance of suffering an episode while in class.
"What people seem to misunderstand here is that medical marijuana is a prescription like any other drug," said Steve Glink, the Surrins's attorney. "Prohibiting it in school would be the same as prohibiting other medications such as Ritalin, Adderall or Concerta."
Her parents claimed that Hanover Highlands Elementary School was denying their daughter the chance to enjoy "the full benefits of her education," so they filed a federal lawsuit against the school district. They also cited that the school is violating the child's rights as well as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
After weeks of back and forth, a judge ruled in the family's favor, making Ashley the sole exemption to the law.
"No one's saying she wants to fire up a bong in math class," the judge said. In fact, the pre-teen doesn't even ingest the drug, she uses a patch on her food and drops of marijuana oil extract on her wrists.
"Ashley cannot wait to return to school," said Glink. "Now, that will happen on Tuesday."
Of the 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana, only three, New Jersey, Maine and Colorodo, allow students to bring their legal prescriptions to school. In Washington, it's up to the school to decide if they should permit use of the nontraditional form of treatment.
Do you think schools should allow medical marijuana? Let us know in the comments!