Medical Marijuana Used to Alleviate Symptoms in Autistic 9-Year-Old

By Nicole Hegewald

medical marijuanaToday it is possible for anybody to write a blog and share it online. People have many different reasons to do so. Some people do it to vent their frustrations in a journal type blog. Some people do it to remember personal experiences and have a written collection of them. Others still do it to share and swap information and knowledge.

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a professor at Brown University. She is author of the novel Somebody’s Daughter, and is a winner of the Richard Margolis award for social justice reporting. In her published blog, “Why I Give My 9-year-old Pot,” she does many of these things.

Her son, J., is autistic. He is also the youngest person in Rhode Island with a medical marijuana license. She describes the difficult decision to take her young son off of traditional medicines used for autism symptoms and transition him to medical marijuana.

As well as having autism, J. had a spinal cord tumor that needed to be removed, and was diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease. Marie was afraid that his increasingly frequent violent outbursts and tantrums were due to his being in immense pain from these conditions.

“He began to bite and to smack the glasses off my face. If you were in that much pain, you’d probably want to hit someone, too,” Marie writes in her blog.

Marie explains in her blog that J. also suffers from the condition of pica, which means he consumes things that are not intended for food, and when he has to pass things like thread and cloth it can be extremely painful. He would come home from school and the entire front of his shirt would be gone. Marie was constantly worried what would happen if the long threads became knotted in his digestive organs.

Marie was worried about the side effects that go along with anti-psychotic drugs commonly used like Risperdal—Thorazine. She did not feel that they had enough of a positive outcome on her son for it to be worth the danger it posed.

“When I canvassed parents of autistic children who take Risperdal, I didn’t hear a single story of an improvement that seemed worth the risks,” Marie recalls. “….We met with J’s doctor, who’d read the studies and agreed: No Risperdal or its kin.”

She got the idea to try using medical marijuana when it was suggested to her by a homeopath. “After reading studies of how cannabis can ease pain and worry, and in consultation with his doctor, we decided to give it a try,” said Marie.

In the second part to Marie’s blog, she tells about how J. is going with his new medication and how happy she is that he is doing better. His autism is not cured; in fact, she says it seems like his autistic tendencies are more pronounced.

On the second page of her second blog Marie writes, “There’s a twist to the happy marijuana story, though. While the cannabis has eased J.’s most overwhelming problem, his autism has become more distinct.”

Marie is relieved that her son’s aggressive behavior has lessened but his vocal outbursts, typical of autism, are still present. She does not regret her decision to use the herbal remedy for her son, and she looks forward to his behavior continuing to improve.

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