Medical Marijuana for Autism?

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Recently, a parent shared an article about a Puerto Rican autistic boy who gained the ability to speak just after two doses of cannabis oil (CBD). At first I balked. The medical community is actually prescribing weed for autism? I incredulously pictured my daughter smoking a blunt, like a pint-sized Cheech and Chong. It seemed a little avant-garde for the conservative in me, but I was intrigued.

According to the article, the boy’s parents tried various schools and therapies, and eventually stumbled upon a mystery treatment: CBD oil. Through a fundraising program, they were able to receive a tiny bottle of the oil. He was given oral doses twice a day. Within just two days, he was finally able to speak. The mom said, “Kalel surprised us in school by saying the vowels, A-E-I-O-U. It was the first time ever. You can’t imagine the emotion we had, hearing his voice for the first time. The teacher recorded him…and we said well, the only different thing we have been doing is using CBD.”

I got emotional just reading the story because I too, want to hear my daughter speak. I scoured the internet and found out that there are hundreds of parents in the U.S. and internationally administering CBD to their autistic children. There is even a nonprofit organization, Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA), co-founded by Thalia Michelle, a self-described conservative Christian mother from Texas. In a Tonic.Vice.com article, “There’s a Movement to Legalize Weed Extracts for Kids With Autism,” Michelle said, “My life was hell. I didn’t sleep…I did everything (for him) short of any hardcore pharmaceuticals. The difference CBD oil made for Lance was almost immediate.”

What is cannabis oil? Simply put, cannabis oil is the concentrated liquid extract of the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa. Similar to other herbal extracts, the chemicals in cannabis oils vary depending on how the extract is made and what chemicals were in the plant to begin with. There are several cannabinoids, but the two that are most well-known among consumers are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana and it is what people are searching for when they want a product that gives them a "high." Unlike THC, CBD isn't known to cause psychoactive effects, and is therefore attractive to those who want to avoid the high but who believe there are other benefits of CBD.

The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t endorse CBD or any form of cannabis for the treatment of autism. The journal, “Global Pediatric Health” notes, “CBD and similar products remain a promising yet unproven intervention in the treatment of children with autism.”

But another team of Israeli researchers have found promising results. Israel is the medical marijuana research capital of the world and has conducted an impressive amount of research on cannabis and autism.

NYS legalized medical marijuana in 2014, but only 10 conditions make patients eligible. Namely: Cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, Multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, Epilepsy, Inflammatory bowel disease, Neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s disease.

However, I found there are NYS parents of autistic children, who are paying out-of-pocket for CBD.

I’m still on the fence with CBD. More to come on this topic. For more info, visit the following links:

www.mammausa.org

www.nymetroparents.com/article/what-its-like-to-provide-your-child-with-medical-marijuana-in-new-york

For info about the next Rockaway Beach Autism Families support meeting, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit Facebook page: Rockaway Beach Autism Families.

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