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