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Advocates urge state to allow medical marijuana for autism patients

flickr user bobdoran

A state board is considering adding autism to the conditions that can legally be treated with medical marijuana in Michigan.

Lisa Smith is the mother of a 6-year-old boy with autism. She says no other treatments have helped.

“As a last resort, I decided to try cannabis,” Smith told reporters after a hearing on Wednesday.

“And I’ve seen my son come back to me. I have a little boy who is happy, he’s healthy. Whereas, before he was out of control, now he’s just a typical little boy who has some uniqueness to him.”

Lisa Smith with the Autism Alliance of Michigan was the lone voice speaking in opposition at the hearing. She says there’s not enough evidence to suggest marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for autism.

“I really don’t like to take away from those families who feel strongly it made a difference for their child – I really don’t. It may have. It’s just, it’s dangerous to assume that that’s going to be OK for everyone,” said Smith.

“Every person with autism is different. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other. So we have to rely on studies of groups of children. It’s the only way to have confidence in our recommendations.”

The state Medical Marihuana Review Panel rejected a previous petition to add autism to the list of qualified conditions in 2013, with seven votes against and just two votes in favor.

The panel is accepting written comments from the public until June 1.

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