Written by: Jason Garoutte
No. That’s not a typo. Parents with children diagnosed with disorders and diseases like autism or leukemia are becoming more open to non-traditional treatments such as medical marijuana. There are currently 58 children in the state of Oregon who are covered under the state medical marijuana law which allows them use of the so called “gateway drug.”
All of us have probably heard the terms leukemia and autism before, but do we fully understand what challenges parents are faced with day in and day out with such disorders? Autism is a brain disorder that often makes it difficult to communicate with and relate to others. With autism, the different areas of the brain fail to work together. This leads to anti-social behavior, repeated types of behavior like body rocking, and becoming upset when routines change.
With one in every 88 children diagnosed with autism in the United States, more parents are searching for answers and treatments that work. One problem with autism is that there is no typical case. People can have many different types of behavior, from mild to severe. In nearly one in three cases, children with autism experience seizures or seizure disorders such as epilepsy.
Although marijuana is not currently considered a treatment for autism by the medical profession, it is considered a treatment for seizures and mood altering behavior. So, what makes medical marijuana a safe treatment for children over the more traditional treatments?
The active chemical in marijuana is called THC(Tetrahydrocannabinol.) This is what gives marijuana its medical properties. In essence, the human body produces receptors that bind with THC, interfering with the brains neurotransmitter systems. This allows the recipient to feel various effects, such as reducing pain, limiting seizures, and lowering anxiety. In cancer patients, marijuana has been shown to reduce nausea and increase appetite, after receiving chemotherapy,
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of scientifically validated treatments. The use of medical marijuana to treat autism has not been tested and could be dangerous for children,” says Susan Martin, director of media relations at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although long term effects from marijuana have yet to be determined, using marijuana at such a young age may be detrimental to the child’s brain growth and development.
Traditional treatments for autism include special behavior training, speech therapy, physical therapy, and FDA approved drugs. Melatonin and Chelation are widely used, legal treatments for autism, where medical marijuana is only legal in 18 states.
There are many traditional treatments available to parents for children with these disorders that are safe, legal, and readily available across the nation. However, as a parent when you are faced with the challenges of raising a child with special needs, you may find yourself weighing the possible long term effects against the apparent short term benefits of non-traditional treatment, even if it involves allowing your child access to a medical marijuana card.