Marijuana and the Treatment of an
8-year-old Child with Multiple Psychiatric Diagnoses

by Debbie Jeffries

The psychiatric history of Debbie Jeffries' son suggests a complicated, multi- diagnosis developmental disorder. Mrs. Jeffries, after learning about cannabis as a medicine and deciding that, given its limited toxicity, she had little to lose in exploring the possibility that it might be helpful to her son where other, more toxic medicines had failed.  The remarkable success she and her son achieved with marijuana is certain to generate controversy.

Jeff has been diagnosed with just about everything, starting from the age of 2, with: ADHD, PTSD, OCD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder), CD (Conduct Disorder) Bi-polar disorder, etc. Over 16 doctors have tried Jeff on every medication under the sun....adderall, carbamazepine, clonazapam, clonidine, depakote, dexedrine, guanficine, imipramine, melleril, neurontin, propranolol, risperdal, ritalin, seroquel, wellbutrin, zoloft, and zyprexa....and then combinations of these medications too. NOTHING worked, and most had adverse side affects and reactions. We also have tried numerous behavioral modifications, therapies, and governmental agencies that specialize in treatment of special needs kids, but to no avail.

In the beginning of Jan. 2000, he was placed into a residential facility for over a year (that was so hard for me to be away from him, unable to give him night-night kisses), and failed a level 12 program. They were going to ship him to a Institution across the states and I told them "NO!” give me one more chance to try to get him straightened out before I have to give up on him. They brought him home and we had social services in our home, around the clock, to help keep Jeff under control. In May, we had an emergency IEP because he was WAY out of control and a danger to students and teachers again at his special ed school for conduct disorder and emotionally disturbed children (now that is scary when they could not even handle him), and I was given 30 days to come up with a solution.

I had been studying the affects of marijuana since my students last year did a report for speech and debate. In it we had learned that it had been used dating back to the ancient years for mental disorder. I then took on my own research and searched all articles I could find: doctors, groups, etc....and thought it just might work for my son too. I contacted WAMM and Valerie Leveroni Corral (the Director) listened to me. She asked me to send documents on Jeff, and then she put me in touch with a doctor who was a pediatric specialist, but also knew about medical marijuana. The only thing was that it had never been tested on children for mental illness, but he was willing to prescribe it for Jeff, uncertain if it would work or not. We set an appointment for the doctor to meet and see Jeff.

Let me note here, I have never used drugs and was very uneducated until my study on the positive affects medical marijuana has. It is natural, and does not harm my son's body, unlike all the other medications he had been on.)

Well, we first got the medication in the form of muffins. Jeff had to eat a 1/4 of a muffin 2 times a day (as a starting point) and we were to adjust accordingly, under the doctors’ care, as with any other medication. Within a 1/2 hour of ingesting, I had a new child, I kid you not. We were driving to school, and as I merged into a new lane of highway traffic, Jeff looked over at me and smiled, his grip loosened and he said, "Mommy, I feel happy, not angry, and my head doesn't feel like a traffic jam"! Now that was profound coming from a 7 year old. That day at school his report home was wonderful, with no aggression and he was very compliant and re-directable.

May 21st was the first day of Jeff's life, literally! I now have an 8 year old son who is stabilizing on this his medical marijuana. Socially and emotionally Jeff is about 2 years old, but is progressing now. For the first time he is able to receive therapy to help him on issues. He is not aggressive, is able to follow directions (for the most part....he is only 8 *smile*) and is a fun, loving kid who also for the first time has friends. He had his very first Birthday party this fall, able to invite friends who actually came!

This is a miracle. Granted it will not "cure" everything, but again, it allows him to be able to participate in therapy. Being around him now, most of the time you would think he is just a typical child, not one who has had a life of hell, been over-medicated even so badly that he had to be admitted to the hospital to detox him, almost dying from the toxicity of the other medications the doc had him on.

Ironically, even after I was so upfront with Jeff's treatment, or even plans of starting him on the medical marijuana, social services gave me thumbs up with going forward on medical exploration. It wasn't for a month and a 1/2 later that they filed a report to CPS who took me to court with allegations of being an unfit mom because I was contributing marijuana to my child. Under Prop 215, here in CA, it is LEGAL to give medical marijuana to a patient who is severely ill. Jeff qualified as severely ill, nothing else had worked and I was about to lose him to an institution. Finally on December 4, it was ruled that I could continue giving my son his medical marijuana. It was a landmark court ruling because it has never been used before in children.

Medical marijuana was and is the only thing to have ever, ever been used on my son that gave him the chance at a normal life. I beg everyone to write congress to get this passed federally. How many more children (and adults too) suffer with mental illness and have come to the end of the road....or what seems like the end of the road, when there could be a simple answer....MEDICAL MARIJUANA.

We now give Jeff the medicine in the form of capsules. It is a tedious process, but again, I would go to the ends of the earth for my son. My mother helps me make it every week for him. We grind up the marijuana in a coffee grinder, sift it, put it on the skillet for an hour with butter and water to cook it, then we spread it out in a big lasagna type pan and bake it in the oven to dry it back out to a powder so that we can put it into capsules. It takes over 5 hours to do the entire process. I would love to patent this process, but don't know how.

I have published a book, Jeffrey's Journey.  please email me if you are interested!  

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