7-year-old takes medical marijuana after chemo

Her divorced parents strongly disagree over the safety of the treatment



PORTLAND — A 7-year-old girl with leukemia is one of Oregon’s youngest medical marijuana patients.

Her mother says she gives her daughter marijuana pills to combat the effects of chemotherapy, but her father, who lives in North Dakota, worries about the effects of the drug on her brain development.

Mykayla Comstock was diagnosed with leukemia last spring. Her mother treats her with a gram of cannabis oil daily.

Mykayla’s mother credits the drug for the leukemia’s remission. “As a mother, I am going to try anything before she can potentially fall on the other side,” said Erin Purchase, 25, who with her boyfriend administers Mykayla’s cannabis.

The girl says the drug helps her but also makes her feel “funny.”

“It helps me eat and sleep,” Mykayla said. “The chemotherapy makes you feel like you want to stay up all night long.”

Mykayla’s father, Jesse Comstock, who is divorced from Purchase, was so disturbed by his daughter’s marijuana use that he contacted child welfare officials, police and her oncologist. Comstock said he was disturbed by a visit with Mykayla in August. “She was stoned out of her mind,” said Comstock, 26. “All she wanted to do was lay on the bed and play video games.”

Comstock pays child support and covers Mykayla’s health insurance. He said he took Mykayla to a private lab in August, where technicians detected the THC levels of an adult daily marijuana user. Gladstone police contacted the Purchase, examined Mykayla’s medical marijuana paperwork, then told Comstock there was little they could do.

Comstock, who used pot in the past, said he doesn’t object to people over 16 using medical marijuana. But he worries about his daughter.

“She’s not terminally ill,” Comstock said. “She is going to get over this, and with all this pot, they are going to hinder her brain growth.

“It’s going to limit her options in life because of the decisions her mother has made for her,” he added.

Oregon law requires no monitoring of a child’s medical marijuana use by a pediatrician. It instead invests authority in parents to decide the dosage, frequency and manner of a child’s marijuana consumption.

Many doctors worry about introducing a child to marijuana when they say other drugs can treat pain and nausea more effectively.

With marijuana, Purchase said, her daughter has been able to fight past the chemotherapy.

“She’s like she was before,” her mother said. “She’s a normal kid.”