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Does Marijuana Replace Pharmaceuticals As A Treatment For Autism

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There's a new hot button on the Internet.

Moms and dads, teachers and laymen alike are up in arms over a two-part story that appeared on doublex.com in May and October of this year entitled Why I Give My 9-Year-Old Pot. The article is a memoir-style account written by Brown University professor Marie Myung-Ok Lee of her family's journey through a variety of treatments for their son's autism and their final success when they tried marijuana.

In her article, Lee explains that she met with her son's doctor to discuss the effectiveness of the drug in treating autism after it was suggested to her by a homeopath as a possible solution. Before speaking with the homeopath, she was reticent to try pharmaceuticals, such as the too-often prescribed Risperdal.

"Last year, Risperdal was prescribed for more than 389,000 children--240,000 of them under the age of 12," Lee says, in explaining her reasons for trying cannabis, "for bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, and other disorders.Yet this drug has never been tested for long-term safety in children and carries severe warning of side effects."

Before marijuana, her son's rages were frequent, and often violent. J's school called her daily, wanting her to do something about J's violent outbursts. They wanted her to take J to a psychiatrist so he could be prescribed a drug to stop the aggression, such as Risperdal.

"But after about a week of playing around with the dosage [of marijuana], J began garnering a few glowing school reports."

The Autism Research Institute's website hosts a page in response to the public's questions concerning the viability of such a treatment:

"Some families have found marijuana (mmj) to be nothing short of miraculous. Some of the symptoms MMJ has ameliorated include anxiety--even severe anxiety--aggression, panic disorder, generalized rage, tantrums, property destruction and self-injurious behavior."

Still, some are scheptical, and rightfully so. When questioned, one St. Petersburg autism teacher who prefers to remain anonymous responded:

"I have mixed feelings about it. While I'm not a huge fan of giving small children anti-psychotics, I think it's ultimately the decision of the family. If it works, that's great. Medical marijuana works so well for so many other things."

One nay-sayer, via the Internet, asks, "if he stays in a state of 'stoned bliss' how are they going to properly evaluate his improvements?"

Some have countered this question with another: How can we properly monitor a child's improvements under the influence of any drug? Lee has at least one example:

"Recently, he came home from school, and I noticed something really different: He had a whole shirt on."

J, like many other children with autism, has pica, a nervous habit that causes individuals to eat things that aren't food, such as fabric, soap, chalk, or laundry starch. J had one of the worst cases Lee had ever seen. But since using marijuana, Lee says, "The pica stopped. Just stopped."

Source: Does marijuana replace pharmaceuticals as a treatment for Autism? - St. Petersburg Special Needs Kids | Examiner.com
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