Medical marijuana can be given to children with severe autism if the senior health official follows the recommendations given by the advisory panel. This makes Michigan, the first state to do so.
Medical Marijuana Review Panel voted 4-2 to recommend the drug for autism. Swallowing oil extracted from marijuana has been effective in controlling extreme physical behavior by kids with severe autism.
Comments received from Detroit doctors, especially the head of pediatric neurology at Children's Hospital of Michigan, and parents desperate for relief influenced the panel. After the vote was passed, the spectators cheered and applauded.
The director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Mike Zimmer decides the recommendation, who has until late October to make a final decision. "I wanted them to see what autism is, what I live with, what my wife lives with," said Dwight Zahringer of Clinton Township, father of a child who has autism. "I'm not trying to sell this on the street. I'm trying to look for a correct way to complement all the treatments we're getting."
No other state allows medical marijuana for severe autism, said Michael Komorn, a lawyer who filed the petition on behalf of a mother in southeastern Michigan. Two doctors need to give their approval for a child to get a medical marijuana card from the state, said Dr. David Crocker, a panel member who voted in favor of allowing it. "We have a pretty good checks-and-balances system," he said.
The doctor who voted a no was Dr. Eden Wells, Michigan's chief medical executive. She said she was not convinced as there is not enough research on the topic, especially the long-term effects of marijuana on children.
"These things are things we do not know until we have enough experience with these medications in a controlled trial. ... I don't think we have those checks and balances," Wells said.
Marijuana for kids with severe autism might serve only as a "last-line therapy" cautioned the experts writing in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics
. Post-traumatic stress disorder, is the only one condition that has been added to those that qualify since Michigan voters approved marijuana for the side effects of cancer and a few other illnesses in 2008.