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Group to push medical marijuana for autism, Parkinson’s after state’s rejection

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Patients with autism and Parkinson’s disease could use medical marijuana under a new effort to overhaul the system in Michigan.

The Michigan Responsibility Council (MRC) announced this week it will push lawmakers to make the state’s medical marijuana system safer and more accessible to qualified patients.

It announced it will include the specific illnesses in its efforts in the wake of a senior state official’s decision on Thursday to reject autism as a qualifying condition.

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Mike Zimmer upended an expert panel’s recommendation that autism be added to the list of conditions. He cited a lack of scientific evidence on its benefits for autism patients and concerns about effects on children.

Prominent Republican political operative Paul Welday chairs MRC. He says Zimmer’s decision “boggles the mind.”

“We believe that the evidence points that it is beneficial, and we are disappointed that one individual can make the decision and could override a panel of experts and say no,” said Welday.

“And it really does motivate some of our people to say let’s roll up our sleeves, let’s get work on this, let’s find a way to fix this system because right now it’s just not working for anyone at any level.”

Welday has a son with autism. He says that’s one reason he got involved with medical marijuana advocacy.

MRC plans to take their initiative to the ballot in 2016 if lawmakers don’t act on medical marijuana legislation this year.

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