After three years of lobbying by parents of autistic children, lawyers, and supporters, Michigan finally gave its verdict: medical marijuana cannot be used as a treatment for autism.
According to Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) director Mike Zimmer, his concern lies in the fact that the approval could apply to all cases of autism, not just to serious ones. Furthermore, there was no requirement that the doctors who should prescribe the use of medical pot should be experienced in autism treatment. Zimmer also said that is insufficient scientific evidence on the benefits of cannabis to autism. Thus, allowing this could bring about more harm than good to autistic children.
Many are unhappy about the decision. LARA panel member David Brogren, who voted yes to the approval of cannabis for autism, is sad but is adamant to continue the fight. “I dare say, this is not over. I will continue to work with the parents and families who face this challenge,” he said.
Dwight Zahringer, a father of a preschool-age son with autism, said he was disappointed with the decision. “I’m going to have to keep looking at more treatment options and to be part of the movement to educate these people in Lansing,” he said.
But Zahringer is not ruling out some foul play. A previously scheduled LARA panel vote on autism was postponed after state panel representatives admitted to omitting around 800 pages of research papers supporting the autism petition.
“I feel like we’ve had a lot of politics involved in decisions like this,” Zahringer said.
No other state specifically allows the use of weed for autism. Advocates were hoping that Michigan would be the first. However, California and Washington DC allow the use of medicinal weed for any condition that a medical doctor deems fit.
Montana and Michigan are the only states that do not allow alternative means of using medical marijuana. Hence, the use of marijuana-infused cooking oils, lotions, and tinctures are considered illegal, as only the dried leaves and flowers of cannabis are considered medicinal.
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