Mothers Want Autism to Qualify for Medical Marijuana

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A group originally founded in Texas called MAMMA, which stands for Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism has been pushing in Colorado to have laws changed permanently and set the standard for how Autism is treated. MAMMA has advocacy groups across the nation fighting for Autism to be included, but currently only Delaware, Georgia and Pennsylvania allow medical marijuana as treatment.

Most of the women in MAMMA of Colorado are transplants who moved to seek treatment for their children that have been diagnosed with Autism. Part of being an American is having choice when it comes to how we take our medicine. While doctors are trusted resources for the most up to date information coming out of the pharmaceutical industry, crowdsourced information of real mothers seeing real results in their children with autism is emerging across social media.

Do you believe that Autism should be a qualifying condition in every state?

Over 3 million individuals are affected by autism, but only three states — Delaware, Georgia and Pennsylvania — allow medical marijuana as a treatment. Just under half of the states have legalized the whole-plant use of medical marijuana, but contrary to common misconceptions, it’s not a free-for-all — patients need a qualifying condition and a doctor’s recommendation. Autism doesn’t qualify under constitutional or statutory law in Colorado, leaving families to apply under comorbid conditions (a child would have to have a legally qualifying condition in addition to autism). In Colorado, children with the disorder can use cannabis as treatment only if they also experience seizures, persistent muscle spasms, severe nausea or severe pain.

A lot of children, especially, slip through the cracks in the law.

Although there’s not much in the way of research saying unequivocally that cannabis heals autism, MAMMA members say their argument is rooted in science, since underlying conditions of the disorder include oxidative stress, neurodegenerative diseases and inflammation — all symptoms shown to be alleviated with cannabis use.

The MAMMAs of Colorado, as they call themselves, many of whom are transplants to this state, decided it was time to raise public awareness about how the healing plant has changed their children’s lives. They gathered at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media for an advocacy event with a small audience hosted by the community-powered radio station, KCMJ (93.9 FM), on Saturday, Aug. 19.

MAMMA’s director of state chapters, Michelle Walker, shared her son Vincent’s story. He was diagnosed with autism around the age of 2. The disorder rendered him nonverbal with the expectation of other developmental complications. When a neurologist suggested he be sent to an institution, the Walkers rejected the advice, opting instead to keep their child at home, under their care.

“We want to trust our doctors, their sincere recommendations, and the pharmaceuticals shoveled across the counter, but it’s a rocky path many parents have endured,” she said.

Like Walker, Terlaje’s son was diagnosed around the age of 2. Tonio began banging his head against the walls while she and her husband constantly restrained him throughout the day.

There had to be an alternative, Terlaje thought. She hoped marijuana might help, and moved to Colorado to access it. Now medicated with cannabis, Tonio can function and attend school full-time. Terlaje sees the light in her son again, adding, “Marijuana is helping the whole family even though the whole family isn’t using.”

MAMMA emphasizes the importance of accessing the whole plant’s benefits. Inclusion of the whole plant in medicine is necessary for proper CBD to THC ratios that let the user attain the full benefits of the healing plant, the MAMMAs say.

Although people and policymakers have warmed up to CBD, since it’s non-psychoactive and now well-known for treating epilepsy, it’s actually the entourage effect with THC that’s working wonders for autism patients, the moms say. The personal testimonies may not immediately effect legislative change, but among the audience, it’s enough to keep building the movement.

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