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Shifting Spectrums: Medical Marijuana Renews Hope for People with Autism

autism to qualify for an ohio medical marijuana card

It’s a well-known fact that cannabis is effective in treating autism, though negative social stigmas and rigid legislation have made it difficult to prove through research study. But doctor testimonies and patient success-stories add credence to the reality, simply:

Cannabis treats autism better than anything else.​

The Ohio Medical board is considering adding 5 new conditions to those that qualify for treatment with medical marijuana in Ohio, including Insomnia, Depression, Anxiety,  Autism, and Opioid Use Disorder. We’re delving more deeply into each one to keep Ohio Medical Marijuana Card holders and potential patients informed on access, conditions and treatment options for health, relief and empowerment.

(Edit 6/14/19: Ohio’s 12-member medical board was set to make a final vote June 12, however the voting has been postponed as the board’s two new members haven’t had time to read up on the issues. The president of the board said there is “no rush” on approving new conditions and no official date has been set.)

It’s a well-known fact that cannabis is effective in treating autism, though stale social stigmas and rigid legislation have made it difficult to prove through research study. But doctor testimonies and patient success-stories add credence to the prevailing reality, simply:

Cannabis treats autism better than anything else.

In early 2018, Newsweek ran an article with a headline asking if marijuana was “the World’s Most Effective Treatment for Autism.” In it, was a story about Sharon,  a single mother with an autistic son, who summarily beat the odds, bucking convention; embracing cannabis resulting in an almost miraculous effect:

“within two weeks of filling the prescription from (her prescribing physician), Sharon (said), he was calmer. He responded when she spoke to him. He could sit still and make eye contact. If she took him with her to visit friends, she could sit with the adults drinking tea while he played quietly in the other room. Within months, he was doing so well that his teachers recommended he leave his special-needs school for a standard classroom. “It’s like a miracle. I can leave the house and go out with him and not worry,” says Sharon. “I can breathe.”

A 2016 Vice Feature told the story of a frustrated mom facing a similar crisis:

Mieko Perez was running out of options; the California mom was watching her son Joey wither away. Joey had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and it was threatening his life. His symptoms were so severe that he wouldn’t even eat, bringing on a subsequent diagnosis of anorexia and malnutrition. He was nine years old and severely underweight for his age, weighing just 42 pounds.

The disorder can range from mild to devastating, and Joey was unfortunately on the very low-functioning end of the spectrum. Since he was 18 months old, his autism symptoms were “absolute chaos” and only worsened, according to Perez.

‘He couldn’t hold eye contact. He didn’t acknowledge anyone in the room. He had an emergency behavioral plan implemented at school since he was three years old.’

“To manage these symptoms, Perez was advised by pediatric doctors to put Joey on a carousel of medications, but nothing worked.

That’s when she turned to cannabis. She diligently researched the drug until she felt comfortable giving it to her son under the recommendation of Joey’s psychiatric doctor—and it got results. Seven years ago, Perez became one of the first pioneers to use medical marijuana to treat autism in children. She was featured on countless talk shows and primetime news segments. Since then, she has dedicated herself to helping other mothers like herself discover how cannabis can help their children. In recent years, the science around cannabis—and how it can mitigate autism spectrum disorder symptoms — has only supported her choice of treatment.

Perez is lucky enough to live in a state where medical cannabis is legal, but many families who want to explore the option for their children are not able to do so.” Some states recognize that this is a problem, and also that cannabis can be a great medical tool, but their efforts to legalize the drug have been limited.

The story went on to tell about how experts even worked with Perez to craft a strain geared to treat his specific symptoms:

“Along with the seasoned cannabis growers at Buds & Roses, Perez crafted a strain specifically for her son and other children on the low-functioning end of the autism spectrum: Joey’s strain. It’s over 50 percent THC and low CBD. “There’s the high-functioning end and the low-functioning end of the spectrum,” she explained. “I typically have experience with families who have nonverbal children and who really on the severe end of autism. For that reason I definitely recommend a strain with high THC.

Perez added, “I’m glad that we’re starting to see acceptance of CBD and we’re starting to see the stigma around medical marijuana lift, but we cannot fail our children on the autism spectrum by only providing CBD instead of THC and CBD. Every child with this disorder is different.”

A Spectrum Disorder

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by repetitive behavior, obsession with patterns, and difficulty with communication and social interaction. It’s also a spectrum disorder, existing within a variable severity range, that affects each patient quite differently. The majority of people with autism suffer pervasive cognitive impairment while around ten percent range from highly specialized intelligence, to savant-level brilliance that stretches the limits of human potential.

With seemingly unrelated symptoms and such variety of expression, as a concept, autism can be hard to pin down. But one controversial theory seems to tie it all together, creating a more manageable picture of its mysterious dynamic.

In 2002, Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen proposed the Extreme Male Brain Theory of Autism which surmized that the brains of people with autism are simply overmasculinized versions of typical ones. On the basis that male brains are built for systemizing, while female brains are wired for empathy, Baron-Cohen constructed a theory that maps out the main corrolary traits of people on the spectrum, including insistence on routine, higher level aggression, obsession with physical dynamics and blindness to social cues. It also answers questions as to why boys are also three-to-four times more likely to have autism than girls, or that girls diagnosed seem to have more masculine traits.

Many things about autism defy even expert comprehension. They still don’t know the cause, and are nowhere near a cure. What they do know, is that more families are seeking treatment than ever before, as incidence ratios grew from 1-in-2000 in the 70’s and 80’s, to 1-in-59 today, a 15% increase from even two years ago. All-in-all, the progress of public perception seems to grow at a much slower rate than the disorder, a dubiously recurring theme in matters concerning the use of medical marijuana.

Several states already allow marijuana to treat symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder, including Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, and Puerto Rico. Despite all this, autism still doesn’t qualify for medical marijuana treatment in Ohio, where an estimated 44,000 children suffer. A state medical board committee recommended adding Autism Spectrum Disorder and Anxiety to the state’s qualifying conditions list, and rejecting depression, insomnia and opioid addiction.

Ohio’s 12-member medical board is set to make a final vote June 12th. Check back here, with us  between now and then for updates on, news, science and treatment, as we support you on your healthcare journey.

If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to obtain your own Ohio Medical Marijuana Card to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products. Any of the products listed above can be found at your nearest Ohio Dispensary.

​​Click here to learn more about what My Marijuana Card’s state-certified Ohio marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (419-237-7119) and our friendly patient coordinators will set an appointment and walk you through the process of receiving your own Ohio Medical Marijuana card.