Medical Marijuana As Autism Treatment? Texas Lawmakers Urged To Expand Cannabis Usage Beyond Intractable Epilepsy
Texas lawmakers are being urged by citizens to expand the use of medical marijuana for individuals with autism. The state allows the use of cannabidiol or CBD, a marijuana extract, in people with intractable epilepsy, a seizure disorder which cannot be controlled by treatment.
AmyLou Fawell, the executive director of Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA) and who has a son with autism, wants Texas lawmakers to expand the Compassionate Use Act for other medical conditions, Time Warner Cable News reports. Medical marijuana involves using the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat or manage a disease and its symptoms.
The two major cannabinoids from marijuana that can be used for medical purposes are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. THC lowers nausea, boosts appetite, and decreases pain, inflammation (redness and swelling) and muscle control issues.
CBD also lowers pain and inflammation. It is also good for controlling epileptic seizures. Scientists are currently studying whether medical marijuana can be used to treat HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders.
Republican Representative Jason Isaac agreed with MAMMA's goal to expand the use of medical marijuana. Isaac, however, admitted that gaining support from his fellow conservatives will be hard.
Fawell's autistic son, 17-year-old Jack, is a little bit verbal but is non-conversational. He is aggressive and self-destructive at times, which Fawell attributes to pain, inflammation and his nervous system being "on fire," TWC News further reports. Jack's autism makes it difficult for him to communicate his problems, so he lashes out.
A family in Oregon used medical marijuana on their severely autistic child. Like Jack, Alex Echols has extreme, self-destructive behavior such as slapping his face until it bleeds and slamming his head on walls.
This prompted his parents to commit him to a state-funded group home when he was eight and was eventually introduced to cannabis-based treatment, according to the Huffington Post. Alex's dad wrote on his blog that the child underwent a positive transformation after medical marijuana treatment.
In Minnesota, the health department is currently in consideration about allowing other conditions -- autism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- to be included in its medical marijuana program, which was passed into law in 2014, MedicalJane recounts. The law encompasses intractable pain, cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Tourette syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease), seizures or epilepsy, severe muscle spasms like multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease and terminal illnesses where a patient's life expectancy is less than one year.