By Steve Elliott
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's top state regulator on Thursday rejected the advice of a state panel and refused to allow the use of medical marijuana to treat autism.
The decision followed a three-year struggle by parents of autistic children, their lawyers and patient advocates to have Michigan become the first state to specify marijuana as a treatment for autism, reports Bill Laitner at the Detroit Free Press.
Mike Zimmer, director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), claimed he was concerned that an approval wouldn't apply just to serious cases of autism, but to all cases. Zimmer said that parents applying to use medicinal cannabis would need the approval of two doctors, yet there was no requirement that either doctor be experienced in treating autism.
Zimmer said, in a four-page "Final Determination," that allowing medical marijuana for autism might do more harm than good to mildly affeted autistic children. That view followed uninformed, but damaging, testimony in Lansing by Dr. Harry Chugani, chief of pediatric neurology at Children's Hospital of Michigan, considered a national authority on autism but obviously who doesn't know much about cannabis.
"The vast majority of kids with autism do not need pot, and I won't sign for it," Chugani huffed last month. He said cannabis should be reserved for those with "very bad behaviors, aggression, meltdowns."