Bill legalizing medical marijuana for autism passes in health committee

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At only two years old in 2016, Jaxsyn Carwile was diagnosed with autism, and the months and years after his diagnosis his symptoms escalated.

“It was like a snowball effect after his diagnosis,” said Jaxsyn’s mother, Tiffany Carwile. “Insomnia, self-injurious behavior, he had silent seizures for a while.”

But Tiffany said the pills that his doctor prescribed him made it worse.

“My son at one point was ingesting about 300 pills a month and he was only five years old,” said Tiffany.

“Every pill caused side effects that deemed more pills.”

She said there are several medical benefits from medical marijuana for people on the spectrum.

A current UC San Diego study is looking at whether it can help those who struggle with explosive behaviors, rage, or self-injury like Jaxsyn.

It wasn't until 2019 that she said Jaxsyn qualified for medical marijuana only because he was diagnosed with epilepsy.

“The change in him is astounding,” said Tiffany.

“I was able to hear my son talk for the first time, he tells me that he loves me, he tells me that he's happy and I’ve never heard that because my son was completely nonverbal before.”

Epilepsy is among the 25 qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Ohio, but autism isn’t on that list.

Tiffany has been working with State Representative Juanita Brent (D-OH) to change that, and just this week Brent’s bill HB60, which makes autism a qualifying condition, passed in the state’s health committee.

“This has been a bill that's been three years in the making,” said Brent.

“So even though people are saying this is a victory right now, this is my second general assembly for even introducing this bill.”

Brent says it took a lot of education to get lawmakers on board, and she believes when it goes up for a House vote next week it will pass.

Tiffany is praying that the bill does pass on behalf of the thousands of parents she knows personally that she says it could benefit.

“My son’s story is one story that echoes the sentiments of thousands of children in our state that are just like him and families that are just like mine and are suffering in silence, a lot of them are afraid to speak out,” said Tiffany.

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