By Michael Komorn
The autism petition has been approved by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Review Panel on 5-4-2018 and has been sent to the Director of LARA for a final decision to add the condition to the qualifying conditions for the Medical Marihuana Program.
In the mean time, physicians in other states use medical marijuana to treat autistic patients already.
By Michael Komorn
Medical marijuana used to treat autism-related disorders
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Abigail Dar’s son, Yuval, is 24-years-old, and she says he is severely autistic.
Mollie Ryckman Barrett’s youngest daughter, Sumer, is 13-years-old and has Asperger Syndrome. This is the story of two moms looking for answers to help their children.
"Medication helps, at times. Sumer, who is doing well in seventh grade, takes two of them," Barrett said. “One helps her focus with her brain and one relaxes her brain a little bit.”
Always, though, there is the nagging worry. “How safe really is the medication we are giving our children today?” asked Barrett.
Dar gave her autistic son higher and higher doses of pharmaceutical prescription medications for years in a bid to control his anxiety and aggressiveness.
Dar complained, “They just give medication hoping it will give an answer, which it doesn’t, and I get my kid crazier and crazier.”
Amid that frustration, Dar had an alternative within reach.
“Israel is much more liberal regarding medical cannabis,” Dar said.
Dar spoke from her home outside Tel Aviv, Israel, where she is at the forefront of medical marijuana research. “I gave him (Yuval) his first dose and it was a miracle,” she remembered.
The dose she talked about was a strain of medical cannabis she and her son’s psychiatrist settled on after trial and error. Yuval became calmer, less anxious, more attentive.
“It’s a game changer,” Abigail said, “it gave us quality of life.”
Barrett said she wants the same opportunity for her daughter, but their home in West Palm Beach, Florida is far removed from the access, and attitudes, available in Israel.
“We should have a right to decide in our home what is in the best interest of our children, what is the safest alternative option for them,” Barrett said.
She said she hopes to someday use cannabis derived oils for Sumer, but her child’s doctor does not agree with the idea. “He just says,” Barrett recalled, “that he doesn’t feel it’s a safe option and she seems OK on her medicine and there really are no side effects.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not support medical marijuana use for autism-related disorders. One big issue, experts say, is the fact that there are many strains of cannabinoids in marijuana.
Dr. Norina Ocampo is a South Florida pediatrician. “The other issue is they think probably all these compounds work synergistically with each other to help, so how do you pick which one will be the right compound,” she said.
Dar is working with Israeli doctors, pushing for much more extensive research on that prime question. “Today we have over 300 kids having access to medical cannabis,” she said.
Medical marijuana used to treat autism-related disorders
9:56 PM, Feb 5, 2018
2:03 PM, Feb 6, 2018
By Michael Komorn
Next Friday, July 31 is a very important day for the Michigan Medical Marijuana community. The MMMA, along with physicians, lawyers, and families have worked tirelessly for more than a year to add autism as a qualifying condition under the Act, and next Friday is the vote to add or deny autism into the law.
Please attend this vote, particularly if you treat your child with marijuana, to show solidarity with the parents of autistic children and family members that have led this drive. Komorn Law has pledged to compensate food and gas for all families with children that attend.
Just attending the panel meeting can make a huge difference, there are many people with a debilitating condition who cannot make it. If you know someone in Lansing, ask them to attend. Friday is the ideal day to show respectful support that will have a real, meaningful impact on the panel's vote, and on the futures of these parents and children in need.
I am sure all of you can understand how important this vote is for the families who have children afflicted with autism. I personally would like to believe that with all the hoopla and attention towards legalization lately the patients and families of patients are not lost or overlooked. Medical cannabis is the real deal. For the last 6 years we have all shared together in the miracles of this plant. We have danced on this forum together making history in Michigan as we implement the 2008 voter initiative. The battle continues and the fight is scheduled for July 31. Your appearance will be a strong showing of unity of our medical cannabis community. It will help provide evidence that medical cannabis is real, and safe access for those afflicted with autistism must be the next step for the MMMA.
By Michael Komorn
"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all."
― Emily Dickinson
"You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore."
― William Faulkner
"We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming - well, that's like saying you can never change your fate."
― Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses
Hope keeps us going; hope is important. It is remaining in the game, believing that things will be OK, and not giving up.
It is getting to the end of the road, having nowhere to go, and instead of quitting, continuing to fight to figure it out, to stay present and mindful, and not give up.
Hope is important. Without hope people have nothing.
A new, thoroughly researched petition to add autism to the list of conditions which can be treated with medical marijuana will be heard by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review Panel on July 20, 2015 at 9:30 am at 611 W. Ottawa in Lansing. LARA originally refused to hear the new petition, citing the denial of two previously submitted petitions for autism. The previously submitted petitions provided limited science and research in support, and resulted in a "no" vote. This new petition was accompanied by over 75 peer review articles and over 800 pages of research on the issue of cannabis as a viable option for the treatment of autism.
Despite what can only be described as overwhelming evidence, LARA, the agency tasked with addressing petitions for new conditions, refused to hold a hearing or even consider the petition. This "dead-end" and unjust position seemingly demanded that myself and Attorney Tim Knowlton, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, and Cannabis Patients United sue LARA in the Ingham County Court. It was only after nearly a year of litigation and foot dragging that LARA ceded its position. Attorney General Bill Schuette's office "defended" LARA's position by delaying for months, only yielding after the petitioner filed her brief with the court, days before oral arguments.
Unfortunately it seems the lives of children and parents hang in the balance of a possibly disinterested and dysfunctional process controlled by LARA.
But now that we are here, and now that there is a debate, the science is overwhelming. Let's not get caught up or distracted from the real issue: autism is a terrible disease with no cure and no proven safe treatments and this is a problem. We could lie to ourselves and say that no evidence exists documenting the effects of cannabis as medicine, but we know this is not true. Testimony was given by parents and physicians, and 75 scientific studies documenting cannabis safety and efficacy in treating autism have now been provided to the panel for their consideration in this decision. We also learned that telling a parent that there is no hope for their child does not work. The most compelling testimony during the May 27 public hearing was that, independent of how the new condition panels decides, parents dealing with this affliction will continue to do what they think is best for their child. This begs the question: shouldn't these parents not have to worry about being arrested considering everything else they have to deal with?
For pediatric and juvenile patients under the age of 18, two doctors would have to approve.
The growing rate of autism has just recently being identified as a significant public health issue, due to statistic provided by the Center for Disease Control's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, a nationwide federal program to identify, estimate, and track and compare autism rates around the country.
Their estimates show an alarming trend: autism rates have risen in every report since tracking began in 2002, from 1 in 150 in 2002 to 1 in 68 in 2010.
In years past, I said people who opposed the medical use of cannabis have never experienced a friend, family member, or person who was suffering from a medical condition. But to oppose the treatment of autism for patients afflicted with the disease is inhumane. To let the status quo remain and subject parents and the physicians who treat these children with exposure to arrest and criminal charges is a deplorable policy for the benefit and welfare of the public health for the citizens of Michigan. There is overwhelming scientific and medical evidence supporting the approval of the petition. There is probably more research supporting the use of cannabis as a treatment for autism than all of the research to support the other ten conditions currently on the registry.
It is important to be mindful of an often overlooked aspect of the MMMA: that its purpose is to protect the serious ill persons who have been recommended to use cannabis with a doctor's (in this case two doctors) recommendation and a bona fide relationship, from arrest and prosecution.
There should be no debate that those afflicted with autism are seriously ill, and the purpose of our law, and the compassion shown by Michigan voters in approval, was to protect parents, patients, and physicians. For the panel to not recommend that autism be approved as a condition of the program is to ignore their duty and responsibility.
Additionally they should be mindful that the standard by which they are held, to a recommend or not recommend as outlined by LARA's own administrative rules, already requires that the condition in question be a debilitating condition:
All too often the issues regarding medical marihuana and marihuana in general are politicized. Even at times using the propagandist's favorite imagery of protecting the children. Well this issue is really about the children, and the only thing that should be considered is that there is overwhelming evidence that cannabis can provide a safe alternative to the traditional medications and treatments currently used for those afflicted with cannabis, and parents and doctors live in fear of criminal liability.
But more importantly, think about any parent that is at the end of the road with traditional treatments, when the physician has no alternative and there is absolutely no likelihood of anything changing for their child, wouldn't we want that parent to have these choices, and who are we to say otherwise?
What would a parent do for their child? is really the question. It the answer is anything, as the testimony presented to the panel indicates, then it is clear parents will continue to treat their children; they will not stop. If it works for their children, the question is, do we want the parents arrested?
It is called hope and every red blooded American is entitled to have it.
Hope is needed here. Protect the children, do not let them or their parents get arrested for treating autism with cannabis.