The Michigan Medical Marijuana Law Review Panel voted 4 to 2 in favor of adding autism to the list of conditions which qualify for medical marijuana in the Wolverine State.
Autism was considered by the panel because of a petition started by Lisa Smith, a mother who has seen the positive effects that cannabis oil has had on her 6-year-old son. Smith says she has seen an improvement in his sleep patterns, overall behavior and diet.
Since the 2008 approval of medical marijuana in Michigan, autism is the second condition that has been added to the state’s list, joining post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which was approved last year.
David Crocker, a medical marijuana doctor and member of the Medical Marijuana Review Panel, commented on the recent vote:
“The parents I’ve talked to are passionate and adamant that this represents a dramatic improvement in the quality of life for them and their affected children.”
The two votes against the petition stemmed from both panel members questioning the possible negative impact that cannabis could have on a developing brain.
Dr. Ronald bradley, chief of psychiatry and professor at Central Michigan University’s College of Medicine, spoke on the issue:
“Palliative care, I understand immensely. What I don’t understand, in terms of child or adolescent development, is what harm we’re going to do.”
The petition was originally turned down in 2013, but Smith was able to sue for the panel to reconsider. The most recent petition included hundreds of pages of research on cannabis and autism that were not apart of the 2013 edition. Smith learned about the benefits that cannabis oil therapy can have on autism through watching how it helped her son. He was recommended medical marijuana to treat epilepsy, which was already on the list of qualifying conditions.
Children in Michigan will only be able to use medical marijuana if they receive two doctor recommendations and a parent acts as the caregiver.
The approved recommendation will now be sent to Mike Zimmer, the director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, who has the final say on the addition of autism to the law.
For the second time, Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Review Panel is being petitioned to add autism to the list of conditions which qualify for medical marijuana in the Great Lake State.
Since medical marijuana was legalized in Michigan in 2008, it has been used to help patients suffering from HIV, cancer, and other illnesses with side effects that are positively impacted by cannabis. One year ago, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) became the first addition to the list of approved medical conditions.
Autism has previously been brought to the state’s Medical Marijuana Review Panel for approval, but was denied by a 7-2 vote in 2013. With such a very small percentage of those approved to use medical marijuana in Michigan being under the age of 18—approximately 200—doubts have been communicated about adding more minors to the registered list without scientifically proven efficacy in the treatment of any condition.
The current push for approval is led by Lisa Smith (photo below with son Noah) and high-profile physicians who are willing to speak up for the possible medical benefits marijuana can offer to those with autism.
One of those doctors, Dr. Harry Chugani, the chief of pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, has seen the positive impact it has had on his patient Noah Smith. Smith, a 6-year-old who was originally prescribed medical marijuana for epileptic seizures, has seen his autism become unexpectedly controlled through daily doses of cannabis oil.
After seeing the way cannabis has helped Noah, Dr. Chugani believes medical marijuana should be made available to those suffering from autism. Dr. Chugani explained:
“It seems to work. … Wouldn’t that be better than giving them all these psychiatric drugs? Not every autistic kid would take this, but if your behavior is wild and you have to be institutionalized, I as a physician would prefer to try medical marijuana. I have at least 50 patients on multiple drugs and still their behaviors are not controlled.”
With a more organized committee of medical professionals working for the approval of autism, it seems that this attempt is stronger than in 2013.
Lisa Smith, Noah’s mother, believes that there are a large number of people with autism in Michigan who would benefit from medical marijuana:
“I know parents who are desperate. They’re missing out on something that could enhance their child’s life. A lot of children with autism don’t have another qualifying condition like Noah does with epilepsy.”
The Michigan Medical Marijuana Review Panel will listen to the public before taking the final request for approval to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Written comments may be submitted at the time of presentation and will also be accepted between May 27, 2015 and June 1, 2015 by 5:00 p.m., at the following address or email address:
Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Bureau of Health Care Services
Administrative Support Division
Post Office Box 30670
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Attention: Cheryl Pezon
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: (517) 335-1980
photo credit: Detroit Free Press