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Should patients be granted cannabis for autism as a qualifying condition?
No state in the US recognizes cannabis for autism as a qualifying condition, except in California, where doctors can prescribe cannabis to anyone they feel will benefit from it.
PHOENIX 3TV looked into the status quo on cannabis for autism and ADHD. They interviewed JP Holyoak, the father of Reese, and the man behind two medical marijuana dispensaries in the Valley.
JP a financial advisor by trade says it is a massive undertaking that was very close to his heart from the start. It is very personal for him, and he considers cannabis a miracle drug.
From a living hell to a normal little girl
Today, his daughter Reese is a seven year old with no problems, getting around and living an active life. She was born with a rare neurological disorder. For many years she was simply non-responsive, not moving, not developing, not even making eye contact.
Reese suffered dozens of seizures every single day. It was absolutely terrible, a living hell, describes JP. She was on a pharmaceutical merry-go-round; they tried drug after drug to try and control the seizures, nothing worked, and the side effects were horrible.
When Arizona passed the medical marijuana law with seizure reduction as one of the qualifying conditions, the conservative Republican, JP, took notice.
He has been anti-marijuana all his life, but he was desperate. Reese went from seizures day and night to only one every few months in no time. Because the seizures stopped, Reese started to develop; she started smiling; she looked at her parents; she started crawling.
Doctors couldn’t believe their eyes.
JP says at her last check-up at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, 23 doctors came to see Reese, as they couldn’t believe what they were hearing, and had to see for themselves. They couldn’t believe a child with Aicardi Syndrome could be doing any of the things Reese was doing.
The little girl bound to a wheelchair was free. Her dad claims the single and sole difference between a child that’s non-responsive and in a wheelchair, and the bright, vibrant, loving beautiful child they have today is marijuana. That’s the only difference, said Holyoak.
CBD oil is what made the difference.
Reese takes oil made mostly with CBD, one of the many cannabinoids in marijuana. Holyoak called it, “Reese’s Peace.” CBD is a non-psychoactive part of the plant known for its medicinal qualities, benefiting countless other Arizona families as well. Of the 103,122 medical marijuana cardholders in Arizona, 191 are minors.
Holyoak tells the story of another young patient using medicinal cannabis: a 12-year-old boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy, whose dad called Holyoak in tears after his son walked for the first time in his life, and came to give him a hug.
More and more parents are turning to cannabis for autism.
Nearly two million people in the United States suffer from autism, a brain development disorder, mostly diagnosed during the first two years of life. Most commonly, autism impacts communication and social skills. Patients are often overly aggressive and hostile, misinterpreting the actions and statements of others.
Many parents of autistic children who have been brave enough to try medical cannabis have reported notable improvements.
Sam’s parents tried cannabis for autism
Sam is an eight-year-old boy with autism who lives in Northern California. After many negative effects of several pharmaceutical drugs on their son’s health, his parents decided to legally (under California law) grow medical cannabis in their backyard, for the purpose of treating their child.
They produced hash from the harvested herb and fed Sam a very small piece of the gooey concentration of cannabinoids twice a day. Sam never experienced any of the psychoactive effects that come with smoking the plant.
Sam consumed mostly THC-A, the acidic precursor to THC, one of the most effective cannabinoids delivered through juicing cannabis, another approach parents of children with autism could consider.
Sam got to a point where he was hurting other children at school and in public places. His mom says she had to put Sam under restraint for hours at a time, as his whole body would be convulsing.
Cannabis had astounding results.
After using medical cannabis his parents were astonished. Sam laughed, he was relaxed and far less anxious. His rage was gone; he started initiating physical contact and giving affection instead of aggression.
According to Steve, Sam’s father, it was the medication that gave them the results they were hoping for all along.
The current U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, agrees more marijuana research is key, as do many high-ranking officials. Dr. Lifshitz, Associate Professor and research scientist at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital says cannabis is a source of potential medical breakthroughs.
Voters passed a law to allow marijuana to be used as medicine in Arizona, but under federal law, cannabis is still a Schedule 1 drug, and by definition has no medical benefit.
Hopefully, cannabis for autism will be listed.
It is with urgency that parents of autistic children await and advocate more research in the hope that cannabis for autism will be approved. They call for trials to be conducted…because the patients are waiting.