At the age of only 18 months, Marie Myung-Ok Lee’s son had developed tumours on his spine. The only option was surgery - and he underwent two delicate procedures to remove the growths.
It wasn’t without it’s costs, and not long after he began to have episodes Marie describes as ‘violent rages’.
‘He would bang his head, scream for hours and literally eat his shirts,’ she wrote in her article for the Washington Post.
At 3 he was diagnosed with a gut condition that left him in extraordinary pain, as well as severe autism which caused him great frustration.
‘He would punch and scratch himself and others,’ she says, with such ferocity people would sometimes ask if they had pet cats.
With all traditional treatments exhausted, Marie was at her wit’s end and that was when this courageous mum took it on herself to find a solution.
‘And so, at age 9, my son became the youngest person with a medical-marijuana license in Rhode Island,’ she says.
Baking the cannabis oil into cookies, Marie soon zeroed in on the perfect dosage for her boy.
‘It left him clear-eyed and alert, without the constant pain-furrow in his brow or the off-the-wall rages.’
Eventually they switched the cookies for a simple oil dropper that could be used at school.
‘My son’s life has changed because of it.’
The laws surrounding medicinal marijuana in the United States, however, mean Marie and her boy are not on easy street just yet.
Not all states allow medical marijuana licenses for the treatment of autism, and on a national level it is still illegal to grow, sell, or take marijuana.
‘If we bring our son’s marijuana when we travel, we worry that we’re committing interstate drug trafficking,’ she says.
Marie hopes the law will change so her boy can continue his happier, calmer life.
‘He shouldn’t have to go back to days of howling pain and self-injury.’