June 28, 2018, Arizona
Autism is a neurological development disorder highlighted by restricted and repetitive behavior. Right now, only five statewide MMJ program among 29 allows the use of whole plant cannabis for autism on the recommendation of registered physicians. In Arizona, autism is not the part of the list of qualifying conditions for which the administration of medical strain of cannabis is allowed. However, cannabis advocates are striving for its inclusion in the list.
Mothers Advocating (MAMMA) is one such group whose Arizona chapter has been in talks with the officials of the state’s Department of Health Service (DHS) for a couple of months for including this disorder in Arizona’s MMJ qualifying list. The group’s principal demand is to allow autistic children the administration of medical cannabis on the recommendation of registered medical professionals.
DHS Officials are not Convinced
The first meeting between DHS officials and MAMMA representatives didn’t conclude really well. According to MAMMA representatives, the state authorities haven’t shown any empathy towards the concerns of autistic patients. DHS maintains that the state hasn’t included autism in the list of qualifying conditions due to lack of authentic clinical trials on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for the disorder.
The MMJ advocacy group is of the thought that such peer clinical research doesn’t exist for many of the medical conditions that are already present in the list. Moreover, the group also has reminded the health department that the state’ MMJ program is the product of voter initiative and therefore it should also be amended in accordance with the public will.
It is worth mentioning that patients suffering from severe instances of seizures-laden autism are eligible for MMJ permits in Arizona because seizures are there in the list of qualifying conditions. Many cases have been reported in the state where minor autistic patients experiencing seizures have benefitted from the use of medical cannabis. It shows that medical cannabis can also be effective against mild forms of autism.
MMJ is a Better Alternative
For autistic children, the regular medical treatments contain harsh side effects with very little benefit. Anti-psychotic medications are usually prescribed for patients suffering from mild to severe levels of autism. These hard medications take a toll on the health of affected children. Some reports suggest that anti-psychotic drugs induce hallucination in autistic patients, particularly in the affected children that results in aggravation of their condition.
In the next meeting, MAMMA representatives will present parent testimonies. Moreover, their lawyers will also cross-examine the physicians from the state. ADHS officials have declined to make a comment about the hearing because it’s still in the progress.
It is important to note that DHS has already accepted a petition which obligates them to biannually review the qualifying list of the program. Therefore, it is more mind-boggling for many as for why ADHS is not including autism in the list since this neurological disorder is quite a debilitating condition for adults, let alone the child patients.
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