Vie. Ago 19th, 2022

Ohio appears to be on the verge of allowing patients to buy medicinal marijuana to treat autism, even as researchers who conducted the studies cited by those promoting approval urge caution.

The State Medical Board of Ohio’s expert review committee will brief board members on the issue in a meeting tentatively scheduled for August 14. The board will vote on approval in the fall.

Supporters point to research suggesting that cannabis could improve brain development in children with autism, but researchers who did those studies warn it’s premature to support approval based on their work.

Parents can administer marijuana to children as caregivers under Ohio’s 2016 medical marijuana law.

Advocates cite a pair of 2013 Stanford University studies that suggest autistic children are deficient in natural endocannabinoids that help different parts of the brain communicate. They also point to an ongoing Israeli study that suggests marijuana extracts such as CBD — in the same category as marijuana in Ohio law — help autistic children communicate with their parents.

A representative of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, which conducted the study, declined comment. But representatives previously have said that it’s too early to draw conclusions from their initial results. Yet Bonnie Goldstein, a California pediatrician who has recommended marijuana for autistic children, thinks it’s enough.

“Some people pooh-pooh it, but it shows 60 percent (of the children who participated) showed improvement without very many side effects,” Goldstein said.

She acknowledged the lack of random clinical trials, but said that those are virtually impossible to do while marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

Tiffany Carwile,director of the national group Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism, pointed out that autistic children are at more than twice the risk of premature death, mostly due to accidents such as drowning. Carwile spoke at the Ohio Statehouse last week and submitted a petition to the state medical board. Her 5-year-old son, Jackson, is on the autism spectrum. She said he has trouble processing language and has no concept of danger.

Carwile believes cannabis might improve Jackson’s understanding of their conversations and the hazards of everyday life. She said marijuana already is approved in Ohio to treat conditions correlated with autism, such as epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries and chronic pain.

“Why are kids with autism the exception?” she asked.

The Stanford researchers say their work is promising, but note that it’s merely a first step in the often years-long process of approving a drug for humans.

“There is a process from science to application,” said Dr. Thomas Sudhof, a professor in the Stanford School of Medicine and one of the experts involved in the autism research.

Though their work suggests that cannabis could replace natural endocannabinoids in the brain, Sudhof said, “it can certainly not be directly interpreted in meaning that marijuana would or would not be beneficial.”

Goldstein, on the other hand, said two-thirds of the autistic children she recommended for marijuana use had improved social skills. California doctors can recommend marijuana for any condition if they can cite research or have observed that it is effective.

But without placebo-controlled clinical trials, other researchers contend, there is no way to know whether those children would have improved without cannabis.

“Anecdotes are not research, anecdotes are just stories,” said Bennett Leventhal, a professor of child psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied autism.

Some doctors say marijuana hurts developing brains, and any potential benefits are offset by the potential for permanent harm.

The brain forms complex connections during adolescence that improve social function and help teens weigh risks and consequences, said Dr. Steven Matson, a doctor of adolescent health for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

“We know THC has a pretty significant effect on that,” he said, referring to the active ingredient in marijuana. “When there is a lot of external THC in the system, all those connections form erratically. Some studies have shown a decrease in IQ that doesn’t improve with age.”

Marijuana, Carwile argues, can’t be worse than the medications that some doctors prescribe for autism.

Only one drug, risperidone, is FDA-approved to treat autism, but doctors often prescribe the antipsychotic benzodiazepine to treat symptoms such as anxiety for autistic children. Thousands of overdose deaths have been linked to the drug, and Carwile worries about fatal overdoses with autistic children.

Abidemi Adegbola, a professor of psychiatry and genetics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, disputes that such drugs are necessary to treat autistic children. Though he stressed that every case of autism is different and treatments vary, therapy has been proved effective for behavioral issues.

“Even the most disordered child can learn something in focused interventions,” he said. “I think that’s well-established.”

e-mail icon
Facebook icon
Twitter icon
LinkedIn icon
Reddit icon
Rate this article: 

Regional Marijuana News: 

Por admin