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25 June 2003

Medical marijuana: should minors have the same rights as adults?

Peter A Clark

Med Sci Monit 2003; 9(6): ET1-19 :: ID: 12704

Abstract

After reviewing the pertinent scientific data, it is clear that there is more than sufficient medical and ethical evidence to warrant the Bush Administration to authorize the Drug Enforcement Agency to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug so that it can be used for medical purposes. Failure to give an effective therapy to seriously ill patients, either adults or children, violates the core principles of both medicine and ethics. Medically, to deny physicians the right to prescribe to their patients a therapy that relieves pain and suffering violates the physician-patient relationship. Ethically, failure to offer an available therapy that has proven to be effective violates the basic ethical principle of nonmaleficence, which prohibits the infliction of harm, injury, or death and is related to the maxim primum non nocere ('above all, or first, do no harm'), which is widely used to describe the duties of a physician. Therefore, in the patient's best interest, patients and parents/surrogates, have the right to request medical marijuana under certain circumstances and physicians have the duty to disclose medical marijuana as an option and prescribe it when appropriate. The right to an effective medical therapy, whose benefits clearly outweigh the burdens, must be available to all patients including children. To deny children the use of medical marijuana when appropriate is a grave injustice which violates the basic foundational beliefs of both medicine and

Keywords: Child, Child Advocacy - ethics, Health Policy - legislation & jurisprudence, Marijuana Smoking - legislation & jurisprudence, National Institutes of Health (U.S.), Patient Rights - ethics, Reproducibility of Results, United States

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750