The Fight for Medical Cannabis for Children with Autism

Aside from behavioral strategies, the American Academy of Pediatrics admits there’s little that can be done to treat child autism.

However, a growing number of people claim medical marijuana helps treat autism. The latest push to add autism as a qualifying illness is taking place this summer in Michigan. Doctors nowadays are interested in the correlation between the endocannabinoid system and autism. Dr. Christian Bogner has been studying the effects of dronabinol (delta-9-THC) upon those suffering from autism.

Leafly reported the effort of Michigan activists to add autism to the medical marijuana table. Dr. Christian Bogner is a board certified physician at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. Bogner and his associates conducted a single-case-study of the effects of dronabinol on an infant with autism.

Dr. Lester Grinspoon has already endorsed medical marijuana for child autism. Grinspoon explains “Marijuana is the drug of choice these days for symptomatic treatment of autism. If I had an autistic child, I’d be right there with these parents figuring out his strain and dosage.”

Current autism treatment can be dangerous to the development of the child. A doctor may try administering antipsychotics or SSRIs. Antispychotics can have real serious side effects upon the quality of life for an autistic child.

Grinspoon adds “There is no question that the brain continues to develop until the early 20s, and we must be very careful as physicians about young brains’ exposure. That being said, I do not worry at all about exposure to cannabis compared with the other pharmaceutical products used to treat autism.” 

The FDA even issued an advisory warning against the use of antidepressants because of teen suicide. Antidepressants(SSRIs) are commonly prescribed for autism. Drugs like these show a correlation between an alarming rate of suicide warning signs. A doctor may just resort to putting their patient on Lithium or an antipsychotic. Quitting Lithium cold turkey can result in suicidal thoughts as well.

Michigan’s Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs will vote on adding autism on July 31. The first attempt was back in 2012 but failed to pass. The case was resubmitted last May to LARA adding 19 family testimonies plus no less than 75 peer-reviewed articles with 800+ pages of evidence. This evidence includes Bogner’s work.

Bogner adds “1 in 68 kids [is] diagnosed with autism in the US. There [are] no effective treatments that are readily available. About 3.5 million Americans are affected […and each] year the incidence raises 10%. It is a 236 billion dollar problem in this country per year, [and in] 10 years it will be [a] 400 billion [dollar problem].”

Lisa Christine of Michigan is one of the families to sign the petition. Her son Noah suffers from Autism. “Making the decision to use Cannabis to treat Noah’s Autism and Dravet Syndrome was not a decision that was made in haste… Noah has made great strides over the past few months since he began using Cannabis… We’ve managed to wean him off all but one medication used for seizure control and he no longer relies on behavior medications to help control or stabilize his behaviors, as he no longer exhibits aggressive or self injurious tendencies.”

Is it time for Michigan to move forward and allow cannabis treatment for child autism? There’s still time to make a difference. Sign the petition here.