Supporters of medical marijuana in Michigan received some surprising and hopeful news. On Friday, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Review Panel voted to recommend that autism be added to the list of conditions that doctors can prescribe medical marijuana for legally. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will ultimately make the final decision, but parents of autistic kids weren’t sure that the petition would make it past the review panel.
Earlier in July, the panel met and postponed the vote when it was made clear that the panel was never given the hundreds of pages of evidence that reportedly showed that marijuana can be an effective treatment for some symptoms of autism. Parents don’t want to hand over a joint for their children with autism to smoke, of course. The supporters say that the plant’s oils can be extracted and benefit the children by helping to control extreme physical behavior that is sometimes seen with autism, according to the Detroit Free Press. When extracted a particular way, advocates for medical marijuana say that the autistic kids can get all the benefits of marijuana without the high.
The most recent and comprehensive petition that urged regulators to consider allowing marijuana to be used for autism was submitted by Lisa Smith. Smith says that cannabis oil has helped her 6-year-old child exhibit less aggressive behavior and better sleeping and eating patterns. Originally, her petition was denied by LARA, but she forced the matter by suing for reconsideration. She was able to legally give her child marijuana, because he also suffers from epilepsy, which is covered under the Michigan law.
“Otherwise, she would not have been able to get a recommendation from her doctor to see the benefits that it had on autism,” Attorney Michael Komorn said while representing Smith. “She’s heroic in that she came forward and was able to tell her story so that this could happen.”
Now, the matter is in the hands of Mike Zimmer, director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, according to MLIVE.
“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,” panelist David Crocker explained, adding that the benefits of marijuana seem to be worth the risks to the developing brain in cases of severe autism.