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Friday, August 28, 2015

Michigan Says No to Medical Marijuana for Autism

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss alternative treatments.

Bill Laitner reports at The Detroit Free Press:
Gov. Rick Snyder’s top state regulator on Thursday rejected a state panel’s advice to allow medical marijuana as a treatment for autism.
The decision followed three years of efforts by parents of autistic children, their lawyers and supporters to have Michigan become the first state to specify that marijuana could be used to treat autism.
Mike Zimmer, appointed in December as director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs — LARA — said he was concerned that an approval would apply not just to serious cases of autism but to all cases. And he said that parents applying to use medical pot would need the approval of two medical doctors, yet there was no requirement that either doctor be experienced in treating autism.
In a four-page “Final Determination,” Zimmer said that allowing the use of medical marijuana for autism might do more harm than good to mildly afflicted autistic children. That view followed corroborating testimony in Lansing by Dr. Harry Chugani, chief of pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and a national authority on autism.
In July, Chugani told the Free Press that “the vast majority of kids with autism do not need pot, and I won’t sign for it.” He said the drug should be reserved for those with “very bad behaviors, aggression, meltdowns.” Chugani could not be reached after the release of Zimmer’s order.
Orac writes:
Three weeks ago, I wrote a post likening the use of “medical marijuana” for autism to a form of quackery that I have written about many times over the years, namely so-called “autism biomed.” As I mentioned, a certain segment of the “autism biomed” movement has enthusiastically embraced medical cannabis, to be added to the other dubious treatments used to “treat” autism, such as chelation therapy, various supplements, hyperbaric oxygen, homeopathy, Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS, a.k.a. a form of bleach), and the like. (I’m talking to you, “Thinking Moms.”) As I detailed in that post, the parallels are unmistakable. In the case of cannabis for autism, there is the same evangelical embrace of cannabis as the next big thing that can help autistic children and the same dismissal of the extreme lack of evidence supporting the use of medical cannabis for autism and the lack of knowledge of the effect of long term cannabis use in very young children on their neurological development. Remember, we’re talking about children as young as three years old here and the use of cannabis over potentially many years.