Heeding the pleas of parents convinced that their kids’ severe autism could be helped by cannabis consumption, members of the Iowa Board of Medicine voted on Friday to expand the conditions for which medical CBD oil can be prescribed. Ulcerative colitis and severe autism were added to the list of conditions cannabis can be used for. Lindsay Gaunt, mother of an autistic child, said she cried tears of joy upon hearing the news.
“I would do anything for my kids, and I’m hoping to bring this to Iowa not only for Obreigh, but for many families,” said Gaunt of her six year old daughter, a nonverbal autism patient who often resorts to banging her head and forcing herself to vomit when she is given her current medication.
“To have the opportunity to have this medication as an option is something that would be absolutely fantastic for families like mine,” said Mary Roberts, a local mother who has two kids with autism that she will now look into treating with CBD oil.
Families are now facing a wait of 60 to 90 days during which the board will hammer out the regulatory details of making cannabis available to people with autism.
The decision comes months after results were released for a major study led by Adi Aran, the director of pediatric neurology at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem– an important mover in the study of cannabis and autism. Aran’s investigation of 60 children showed that cannabis oil can be effective in treating the vast majority of autism cases. After a minimum period of seven months of using cannabis oil, 80 percent of parents reported that problematic behavior in their children had decreased. 62 percent reported their kid’s behavior had significantly improved, and 40 percent reported that anxiety symptoms had also been alleviated. In Israel, a 20:1 CBD:THC ratio product developed for epilepsy patients is commonly prescribed to children living with autism.
Despite the drug’s successful performance in such trials, not all are convinced the familial connection to marijuana is without its perils. In August, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a clinical report that cautioned the drug’s usage by pregnant and nursing mothers. The AAP raised concerns about the long-term effects of exposure to cannabis among children. “Many of these effects may not show up right away, but they can impact how well a child can maneuver in the world,” said Sheryl A. Ryan, a lead author of the report.
But the case is being strengthened for the use of CBD as an effective treatment for various conditions that affect children. Doctors point to the cannabinoid’s success among epilepsy patients in increasing inhibition, or slowing the operation of the neurotransmitters responsible for seizures. A study released earlier this year suggested that CBD-based Epidiolex can reduce seizures by 41 percent.
Iowa is far from the only US state that has made the link between medical cannabis and autism. Michigan, Minnesota, and Florida have all authorized patients to use cannabis to treat their symptoms.