Illinois First State To Qualify Autism
Illinois Adds Autism As Qualifying Condition For Medical Marijuana – The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board in Illinois has become the first in the nation to approve medical marijuana as a treatment for autism.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a wide range of social impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive and restricted behaviors. Individuals with autism can be both verbal and non-verbal, and oftentimes have physical health issues associated with the condition.
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Autism was added to the Illinois state list of qualifying conditions alongside seven other ailments, including: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, osteoarthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, intractable pain, chronic pain syndrome, chronic pain due to trauma, and chronic post-operative pain.
In order for children to qualify for the medical marijuana program in Illinois, they must have written approval from two doctors.
Advocates have been pushing for recognizing the benefits of medical marijuana as a treatment for autism for years. In California—where medical marijuana can be recommended for any ailment a doctor deems appropriate—there have been patients who’ve been allowed to treat autism with the plant. One of the more notable cases is the story of Joey, whose mother Meiko Hester Perez organized the Unconventional Foundation for Autism. His mother’s tireless advocacy has lead to a custom strain of medical marijuana for the treatment of autism named Joey’s Strain, developed by Buds and Roses Collective in Studio City, California.
In a June 2015 case from Puerto Rico, autistic nine year-old Kalel Santiago spoke his first words following his family’s administration of an oral CBD spray. Being non-verbal his entire life, he unexpected recitation of “A-E-I-O-U” was a shock to his parents and teachers alike. In the words of his father, “You can’t imagine the emotion we had, hearing Kalel’s voice for the first time. It was amazing. The teacher recorded him and sent it to my wife and me, and we said, ‘well, the only different thing we’ve been doing is using the CBD.’”
Despite encouraging movement in the medical marijuana and autism conversation, adding autism as a qualifying condition has also received backlash in recent months. In August, government officials in Michigan rejected the state panel’s recommendation to add the condition despite the panel’s 4-2 approval. Mike Zimmer, the director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), rejected the measure on grounds that he sees the potential for medical marijuana to do more harm than good for individuals with mild cases of autism. The hearings were also marred with controversy—which lead to the panel’s decision being delayed eight days—after representatives from LARA admitted to panel members that they had omitted 800 pages of research filed in support of adding autism as a qualifying condition.