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Friday, March 25, 2016

Autism & Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss alternative treatments.

Todd Bookman reports at Newsworks that Pennsylvania may soon be the first state to specify autism as a qualifying condition under a medical marijuana statute.
The plan, which cleared the House of Representatives last week by a 149-43 margin, would also include conditions more commonly found in state medical cannabis statutes, including cancer, Crohn's disease and glaucoma.
"Some people have called me and asked me and said, 'Why are you recommending this for autism?' We're not recommending anything for anything. That's up to doctors to decide," said state Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon, who sponsored the amendment to include autism.
While there may be anecdotal evidence, some opponents of the move point to a lack of scientific proof for the use of marijuana to ease symptoms such as anxiety. Research studies remain limited by federal prohibitions against the drug.
Three states — Maryland, Massachusetts and California — along with the District of Columbia don't lay out conditions in their medical marijuana statutes, but Stansky said Republican majorities in Pennsylvania's House and Senate made passing a less restrictive version a greater challenge. Last year, Delaware added autism to its official list of qualifying conditions, but only in patients who display self-injurious or aggressive behavioral symptoms.

The Pennsylvania bill still needs the approval of the Senate, which greenlighted an earlier version of the medical marijuana measure. Gov. Tom Wolf has stated he would sign the bill into law.