A bill headed to committee this week would make medical marijuana a legal treatment for children and adults diagnosed with autism.
Families with the group Louisiana Mothers Advocating for Medical Marijuana for autism, or LA MAMMA, plan to testify this week before Louisiana lawmakers.
Katelyn Castleberry, from Bucktown, will be there on behalf of her two sons, Ramsey and Bodi, who are both on the autism spectrum. Castleberry said some of their behaviors are life threatening and thinks medical marijuana could be a better medical treatment option because the prescriptions they currently take could have serious side effects.
“The anecdotal evidence is wonderful and substantial and gives us all hope, Castleberry said. “There are children who speak after being on medical cannabis. There are children whose nervous system settle down and their entire system is improved.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics previously spoke out against the treatment, but WDSU medical editor, Dr. Corey Hebert, said it is worth studying. Hebert said some children with epilepsy and cancer are already benefiting medical marijuana, which he said is different from the illegal drug and does not give the patient a euphoric high.
“We know that it is basically safe because we use it in other pediatric illness, so what we must do is just figure out if it actually works for children with autism,” Hebert said.
HB 627 is authored by state Rep. Rodney Lyons, a Democrat from Harvey.
Medical marijuana is legal in Louisiana, but only for certain illnesses. If passed into law, this bill would add autism, with aggressive, destructive or self-injuring behavior, to that list.