It is now widely accepted that weed is effective in treating nausea, pain, loss of appetite, and many other side effects associated with traditional cancer treatments. What's less accepted is the use of pot to treat children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. In the premiere episode of Weediquette, our VICELAND show devoted to the science and culture of all things stoned, we visit a number of families who are using THC to medicate their seriously ill kids. Some of the parents even believe that marijuana on its own can cure cancer, and they are using it as an experimental treatment.
While the idea of a small child stoned out of her mind on dank nugs might be what most people imagine when they picture this form of medication, the kids profiled in the Weediquette episode are smart, funny, and full of life. One of them, a seven-year-old named Lauranne suffering from leukemia, takes a dose cannabis oil that is equivalent to "ten bong rips of high-grade medical marijuana," according to host Krishna Andavolu. While Lauranne's mother admits she can definitely tell when her daughter's medicine kicks in, the reaction isn't nearly as pronounced as one might expect from such a high dose of THC, and Lauranne is able to communicate coherently and play outside.
Watch the first episode of 'Weediquette,' above.
To further test the idea that kids being medicated with weed function similarly to kids who aren't getting baked on the reg, I interviewed two ten-year-olds, one of whom medicates daily with cannabis oil, and another who does not. I asked the girls the same set of questions, some of which I pulled from school workbooks available online. Read through their answers below, and see if you can tell which one is on weed.
VICE: Hi, Naomi. My name is Jonathan, and I want to ask you a few questions about your day and what you like to do, and then I'm going to ask you a few fun pop quiz type questions. Is that OK?
Naomi: OK. That's fine.
Do you have a favorite TV show? What is it?
Hmmm, probably Brain Games.
Yeah. It's an awesome show about your brain and how to make it work better and stuff like that.
Wow. That sounds really cool.
Yeah. Really weird tricks. Eyes trick your ears, and your ears trick your eyes, and your mouth tricks your nose!
Cool! Do you have a favorite game you like to play when you're not in school?
When I'm not in school, I like to read, but I have a question for you. Could it be, like, a video game? Like, a dancing game or something?
Yeah, it could be a video game.
What's your favorite non-video game that you like to play with your friends?
Very cool. And do you have a favorite book?
Probably Harry Potter.
What do you like about Harry Potter? Is it the magic?
For me, it's the adventure. I love the adventure in the story.
Do you have a favorite adventure that Harry's been on?
Goblet of Fire.
Do you have any pets?
We have three fishes in our home, two birds, and three chickens.
Do you have a favorite animal?
OK, so this is kind of an imaginative one, but what would a flower say to a ladybug?
"Hi Ladybug! My name is Flower. Why don't you come and live in me? I'm a nice, pink one!"
That's good, I like that. Can you tell me something that you learned in school yesterday?
That's kinda hard because I had a substitute teacher yesterday.
So the substitute didn't teach you too much, huh?
OK. I'm going to ask you a few pop quiz questions now. Are you ready?
A teacher bought a sticker for each of her students. There are 30 students in her class. If she gave 15 of them away, how many stickers does she have left?
Thirty students... How many stickers did she have?
She bought a sticker for each of her students, and there were 30 students in her class.
She has 15!
That's right! Good Job. OK. Thomas was counting by fives. He stopped at 85. What number would come next?
That's right! Is a dog a mammal, a reptile, or a fish?
Good job. And what's the closest star to the earth?
How many states are in the United States?
OK. What's the capital of the United States?
Where does the president live?
In the White House.
What continent is Canada in?
Good job! Here's a science-y one: What happens to water in a puddle as it dries?
What is the force that holds your plate down on the table?
You got them all right! I'm very impressed. You did a great job, Naomi. Thank you so much for talking to me.
Thank you! You too.
VICE: Hey, is this Mykayla?
Hi, how are you?
Good. My name is Jonathan, and I'm going to ask you a few questions, if that's OK?
OK, cool. So, what did you do today?
How was school?
Did you learn anything in school today?
Yeah, I did math and reading and the history of Lewis and Clark.
What was the history of Lewis and Clark like?
They had 31 men and out of all of those 31 men only one died from a burst appendix.
Wow, they were quite the explorers, huh?
Yeah. They had to eat candle wax.
Wow, they had to eat candle wax? I didn't know that. That's cool. Do you have a favorite TV show?
What is it?
Cool! And do you have a favorite book?
And what is it?
It's Ranger in Time.
What's it about?
It's about a dog, a rescue dog that finds a metal first aid kit in his backyard and it takes him back to the Oregon Trail. They go from West Virginia to Oregon to find new land to grow.
Wow! That sounds really cool. And do you play games? Do you have a favorite game that you like to play?
I like to play board games.
What's your favorite board game?
Totally Gross. It's a science game.
What's your favorite animal?
Bunnies and doggies.
Do you have any pets?
I have a fish and a dog.
Cool! What are their names?
Olivia is the dog, and Nova is the fish.
Here's a creative question for you: What would a flower say to a ladybug? Buzzzz buzzz?
What's your best subject in school, or your favorite subject?
Reading and spelling.
Cool. OK, so now I have a few pop quiz questions for you. You ready for these?
OK. So, here's the first one. A teacher bought a sticker for each of her students. There are 30 students in her class. If she gave 15 stickers away, how many does she have left?
That's right! Good job. OK, here's the next one. Thomas was counting by fives. He stopped at 85. What number would come next?
I'll read that once more. So he was counting by fives and he stopped at 85...
Oh! It'll be 90!
Ninety, that's right. Good job! Is a dog a mammal, a reptile, or a fish?
Easy. It's a mammal!
That's right. What is the closest star to earth?
Good job! How many states are there in the United States?
And what's the capital of the Untied States?
And where does the president live?
Washington, DC, in the White House.
That's right! What continent is Canada in?
Very good. Here's a science question for you. What happens to the water in a puddle as it dries?
Very good. And what force holds a book down on your desk?
Very good. Those are all my questions. You did such a good job, Mykayla! Thank you so much for talking to me.
Mykayla is currently in complete remission from t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and she completed her chemotherapy treatments one year and four months ago. She is finished with pharmaceutical treatments, and she takes 1/20th of a gram of cannabis oil per day. She will continue that regimen until she has been cancer-free for five years (she is currently at three years, seven months), and until she receives the blessing of her oncologist to stop the medication. For more information on Mykayla visit her Facebook page, Brave Mykayla.
These interviews were lightly edited for clarity.
For more on the use of marijuana in pediatric medicine watch the premiere episode of Weediquette, "Stoned Kids," on VICELAND and also right here.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter.