Family Holds Rally Advocating Medical Cannabis Be Used For Treating Autism

 Family Fights For Son With Autism

 Family holds rally advocating medical cannabis be used for treating autism – The Ihm family has exhausted 21 different treatment methods to control the violent outbursts of their 8-year-old son, Ethan, who has a severe form of autism.
 No drug has been successful and institutionalization is becoming a more likely outcome, said Ethan’s brother, Elliott.

But still exploring other options, the Ihm family organized a rally Thursday afternoon in downtown DeKalb to implore the Illinois Department of Public Health to allow them to consider another possible treatment for Ethan, medical cannabis.

Signs reading “Help Legalize Medicine” and “Honk for Hash” crowded the corner of Lincoln Parkway and First Street. By 4:30 p.m., about 15 supporters were holding signs.

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Elliott Ihm said that the aim wasn’t to allow medical cannabis as a first line of treatment for autism, nor were children meant to smoke the cannabis, since treatment methods can come in oil form as well. He added that he was unsure if medical cannabis would work in Ethan’s case, but wants to have the option.

Despite an 8-2 vote from the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, a committee appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah rejected a request in January to have autism added to the list of conditions for which medical cannabis can be used as a treatment.

 Legal Battle

However, a successful lawsuit that deemed Shah’s actions unconstitutional forced the director to reconsider his decision by weighing the scientific evidence that supports medical cannabis as an autism treatment. Shah must make this decision by February.

One of the signs provided the number to Shah’s office so passers-by could voice their opinions.

Elliott Ihm said that about seven of the rally participants were not people he recognized. One of which was Pat DelJonson, a member of the grass-roots group DeKalb Area Progressives.

“It is so great to hear so many cars honking,” DelJonson said. “I wish them luck. I hope for full legalization of cannabis someday.”

DelJonson added that she would like to publicize the event via her group’s website and social media presence.

After the rally, supporters moved to the House Cafe at 5 p.m. to learn more about Ethan’s condition and ways to support the use of medical cannabis for autism. Free hot chocolate also was provided by the Common Grounds coffee shop in downtown DeKalb.

Twenty-eight states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis. However, only Washington, D.C., and five other states have approved autism as a disorder that can be treated with medical cannabis.

By DREW ZIMMERMAN-dzimmerman@shawmedia.com

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