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Autism & Cannabis: Ohio’s fight to give autism patients more options 

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and serendipitously, Ohio is considering enacting a law right now that would give autism patients more options for treatment. I’d like to share what’s going on with this bill as it sheds light on the choices we all make between risking a pharmaceutical drug’s side effects and considering the option of treating a condition with holistic medicine instead.  

As a medical doctor, I believe in science and trust that pharmaceuticals can save lives and improve the health of many patients. However, I’ve also seen patients whose pharmaceutical treatments have caused detrimental side effects. I’ve seen these same patients thrive when switching to utilizing cannabis and other holistic medicines instead. 

Two pharmaceuticals that are FDA approved for autism are antipsychotics Risperidone and Abilify.  While these medicines are indicated to treat the core symptoms of autism, they also come with a long list of scary side effects that can include seizures and death.

As a mother, I understand the heart-breakingly difficult choice that a parent of a child with any chronic medical condition makes. You receive a prescription for a medication from your child’s doctor who you trust, then go home and read all of the potential side effects of that medication. And it gives you pause. You ask yourself, “Is this safe for me to give to my child?”

The answer for every parent is different, of course, but having holistic options in addition to pharmaceutical options is something every parent, and every patient, deserves to have access to. 

An Ohio Mom’s Battle 

Tiffany Carwile is a mom in Bryan, Ohio who’s been fighting for that holistic option for her autistic son Jaxsyn, since 2016. Tiffany and Jaxsyn want the right for patients in Ohio to use cannabis for autism instead of the pharmaceutical drugs he’d been prescribed that caused his condition to dramatically worsen. 

The evidence that cannabis can effectively treat autism is well-established in current medical research. Twenty-six states in the U.S. now allow patients to use cannabis in some form. 

Tiffany has dedicated the past five years toward navigating the murky legislative process that might consider adding autism as a qualifying condition to Ohio’s Medical Marijuana program. She became an expert on autism, collaborating with many Ohio doctors who supported her application. She’s submitted thousands of pages of evidence to the medical board over these past four years, only to get a “no” again and again. 

This is Tiffany and Jaxsyn’s third attempt at having autism approved for cannabis in Ohio. This time, with the support of state representatives Juanita Brent and Bill Seitz, Ohio House Bill 60 was created. The bill is currently up for consideration. 

Representative Brent agrees, which is why she wrote and co-sponsored the bill. “I’ve had a lot of constituents come to me in my own district, as well as others across the state, with concerns that they need alternatives for their children. We’re talking about parents trying to help their children out. We have to give them a way to try to medicate their children in a safe manner.”

There has been talk that HB60, if passed, would be called Jaxsyn’s Law. 

“Ohio families should not have to move to one of the seventeen other states who already permit autism as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis to comfort their child,” Brent said. 

What can Cbus Chic’s readers do to support this effort?

You can help voice your support to add Autism Spectrum Disorder as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in Ohio by emailing your elected representatives to tell them you support HB60. Tiffany’s petition includes a template for sending your email. 

This is an intense time for families of austic children being on the cusp of change with House Bill 60.  To learn more about autism and Autism Awareness Month, go to their website.

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Have questions or would like to suggest a subject for my next column? Please email me at  DrBridget@greenharvest.health.

Dr. Bridget is a Board-certified family physician, cannabinoid physician and life coach. She is the owner of Green Harvest Health Clinics and GHH CBD Medicinals. Learn more at www.greenharvest.health and DrBridgetMD.com

 

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