Medical marijuana approved in Rhode Island for children with autism

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Rhode Island’s Department of Health signs off on marijuana use for treating the condition

The Rhode Island Department of Health made a wise and life-changing decision yesterday. After being presented with a petition that had been initiated by parents, the department understood the importance of listening to the public and signed off on a measure that will allow medical marijuana to be used in the treatment of autism in children. The approval shows the power of collectively pursuing a goal through positive reinforcement.

The petition began to circulate this past April. It was introduced to give physicians the ability to prescribe marijuana to patients with autism. A hearing on the subject was held this past August, which saw parents supporting the idea that autism should be classified as a debilitating medical condition.

The health department sent a letter to the parents in response to the petition, informing them that, as of yesterday, physicians can now legally prescribe marijuana for autistic children. In doing so, Rhode Island is one of only a small handful of states that have authorized marijuana for children. Out of the 31 states where medical marijuana is legal, only seven have classified autism as a qualifying condition, according to the Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana website.

There are several requirements physicians will need to follow. They must document why he or she has decided to switch from laboratory pharmaceuticals to marijuana and assessments must be made after the third month of treatment. Those assessments must include consultations led by child psychiatrists and pediatric neurologists or developmental pediatric specialists. If the assessments indicate that behavior has not improved, marijuana use must be suspended.