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Monday, February 22, 2010

Autism and Marijuana

Autism overlaps with many other issue areas, including marijuana laws. WYNC reports on possible legislation in New York:

Legislators are still working out the details on a medical marijuana bill, including who will be eligible. But some users hope it will cover their mental health problems. Abigail Schweter says marijuana helps with the anxiety disorder she's suffered since she was raped in her childhood, more than pharmaceuticals like Zoloft, an antidepressant. And she thinks marijuana would also help her severely autistic son, who has started becoming violent.

"For those of us who chemically and medically need it, we're not using it to get high. We're using it to feel normal, to feel okay. And to be able to cope in our everyday life," Schweter says.

But Schweter and her son are likely to be disappointed, at least in the short run. Even if medical marijuana does get signed into law this year, it's unlikely to cover mental health problems. However, legislators say they will consider expanding coverage, two years down the road.

In an earlier story on ABC, however, at least one physician expressed skepticism about the approach:

"He is intoxicated. He's stoned," said Dr. Sharon Hirsch, a child psychiatrist at the University of Chicago. "It means that he's under the influence of a drug and may have an addiction. It can cause psychosis, may lead to schizophrenia. [There's] no evidence at all at this time and no reason to prescribe any kind of marijuana for a child with autism."