Sierra Riddle was a normal single mother living with her son, Landon Riddle, and her mother, Wendy Riddle, in St. George, Utah. However, in September of 2012, two-year-old Landon was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow common among children.
This development changed her life and that of her family completely. She flew Landon to a children’s hospital in Salt Lake City, where he was put under a four-year standard chemotherapy treatment plan, but doctors were quick to warn that he had about 8% chance of survival – this is despite the fact that the nationwide survival rate among children diagnosed with ALL is as high as 90%.
The treatment was working, but there was a problem; the side effects were too much for the little boy. He was developing neuropathy – or damage to the nerve system – and, as a result, was becoming weak and experiencing numbness and pain. This situation made Ms. Riddle desperate.
Through a Facebook page set up by friends to offer support, Sierra learned of the cancer-healing potential in marijuana and its few side effects. Having struggled with heroin addiction in the past, introducing marijuana to little Landon was not an easy decision for Sierra to make. With the condition he was in, however, she nevertheless had little to lose.
Landon Riddle and Family Go to Colorado
Unfortunately, Sierra also faced a legal obstacle. Marijuana treatment is not legal in Utah, and the only way to get around this is moving to a state that allows its use.
Consequently, Sierra set up a home in Colorado, a state with marijuana-friendly laws. She got in touch with the Stanley brothers, who run one of the most successful medical marijuana establishments in the state and supply much of the marijuana for kids in Colorado and many other states, where it is legal to sell and consume hemp products for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Even though Landon Riddle was on hemp treatment at that time, he was still undergoing chemotherapy at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, one of the largest centers in the country that treats children with ALL. When it became apparent that the chemotherapy was not helping him much, Sierra sought to stop the treatment completely after six months of marijuana treatment. Her choice did not go over well with the doctors at the hospital, who made true their threats and reported her to Human Services.
The doctors argued that marijuana carries potential risks of toxic side effects and that no concrete scientific evidence exists that its derivatives can cure or treat cancer. On the other hand, they said, chemotherapy has worked for thousands of families over many years.
Nevertheless, while acknowledging questions about marijuana’s effectiveness, Dr. Margaret Gedde, who wrote the initial marijuana prescription for Landon, said, “When you look at children who go through that same course of treatment and compare Landon to them, it seems like he’s doing better than what would be expected.”
When asked whether her son was doing better with marijuana, Ms. Riddle had this to say: “Yes, a hundred times better -, I mean a million times better.”
Landon Riddle’s case is a perfect example of the dilemma that many patients have to face when making decisions regarding medical marijuana. This confusion is brought about by mainstream health always being some steps behind reality and patients having to put up with its demands even facing facts to the contrary.