Earlier this week, for World Autism Awareness Day, a group of Arizona mothers came together at the state capitol to push legislators to amend state laws to allow for their autistic children accessed to medicinal cannabis…
According to current Arizona statutes, medicinal cannabis can only be provided to patients with a very specific group of ailments and illnesses defined by the state. The current list includes cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, or the treatment of any of these conditions.
Notably, however, a separate clause in the law notes that it can also be provided to patients with chronic or debilitating diseases/conditions. Parents of children with severe autism, who in some cases harm themselves or cannot participate in basic childhood activities like school, are likely to argue that it constitutes a “chronic or debilitating disease.” One mother who does make that case is Brandy Williams, the president of Arizona Moms Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism. In an article by AZFamily.com, Williams was quoted saying, “If autism isn’t a debilitating condition, I don’t know what is…”
In a previous interview Williams described the extent of her son's autism: “He was literally cocking his head back and smashing it forward on hard objects around our house. I had 30 dents in my middle front door. I had a hole in every single door in my home... We’ve been buying diapers for six years. I couldn’t even find a school that could work with his behaviors.”
Now, she says he’s speaking, reading, and attending school full-time.
According to Williams, the reason for the dramatic improvements was a few drops of cannabis oil she became legally allowed to give her son for seizures. Due to the changes she saw in her son’s autism, she became a vocal advocate for the inclusion of autism on the official list of diseases/conditions for which Arizona will grant a medicinal cannabis card. It was her group which organized the demonstration this Monday.
Sadly, the battle being fought by parents in Arizona is one seen across the nation. Politics and legislators, rather than science and physicians, are making medical decisions for patients. Until this trend changes, parents like Brandy Williams and her organization will continue being forced to fight for their children to have access to medicines which can change their lives.