Interview with Cash Hyde’s doctor: risk/benefit analysis favored cannabis for toddler

Cash Hyde, with his father Mike earlier this year in Colorado Springs (Kersgaard)

“It was the humanitarian thing to do,” said Dr. Chris Christensen about recommending cannabis for Cash Hyde.

“There was a very high probability of fatality with any course of therapy,” he said about the boy, who was one year old when he was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer.

The Colorado Independent yesterday reported the story of the three-year-old cancer patient whose parents give him cannabis as part of his cancer treatment.

The doctor said recommending cannabis seemed to meet the “compassionate use criteria.” Christensen, who has been a general practice physician for 35 years, said he has done a great deal of study of the medicinal value of cannabis and thought there was a reasonable chance of success in using it with Hyde.

“Properly prepared and consumed, cannabis can have a positive effect on a wide variety of malignancies,” he said, adding that there is a lot of science to the effect that cannabis can promote healthy cell growth, which is especially important to someone going through chemotherapy.

He said that even discounting cannabis’s role in shrinking tumors and promoting cell growth, its use can be justified for cancer patients simply on the basis of “modifying pain and increasing survivability by decreasing nausea and promoting better nutrition.”

Asked if he had any concerns recommending cannabis for a patient as young as Hyde, he said he didn’t. “Cannabis is relatively non-toxic. That doesn’t mean it can’t be abused but there are significant benefits if it is used properly. His age was not a reason to withhold cannabis.”

In addition to his family practice, Christensen said he once had a practice devoted primarily to pain management, where he had in the range of 600 patients suffering from severe pain. Compared to the opiates normally prescribed for such patients, he said, “I see cannabis as having a very reasonable risk vs. benefit.”

Dr. Christensen did not return a phone call in time to be included in The Colorado Independent’s first story on Cash Hyde. Cash’s father gave The Colorado Independent permission to speak with Christensen.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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