Colorado approves medical cannabis as a treatment for autism

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Colorado approves medical cannabis as a treatment for autism

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Colorado has updated a list of conditions that determine whether or not an individual is a qualifying patient to receive medical cannabis as a treatment.

Included on that list is a new qualifying condition: autism. Adding autism to the list means that Colorado stands a good chance of bolstering its medical cannabis sales following the decline that swept over the market since recreational legalization began.

Colorado’s recreational cannabis market launched in 2012

Adult-use cannabis was legalized in Colorado under Colorado Amendment 64, which was a popular initiative ballot measure to amend the Constitution of the State of Colorado, establishing a statewide drug policy permitting the “personal use and regulation of marijuana” for adults aged 21 and over.

Medical cannabis was legalized in Colorado in the year 2000. On Tuesday, Governor Jared Polis signed a bipartisan bill into law authorizing medical cannabis use for autism. The news comes after his predecessor John Hickenlooper overturned a similar bill last year due to lack of research.

Expanding the state’s list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis simplifies the process of obtaining the plant in medicinal form for minors suffering from debilitating conditions, including epilepsy and autism. A wide variety of disorders fall under the broad spectrum of autism. Examples of autism spectrum disorders include autism, Asperger’s syndrome and various other developmental disorders associated with mild or severe symptoms.

Being included on the state’s medical cannabis registry means that an individual can procure pharmaceutical-grade pot to relieve the symptoms of widespread medical conditions and ailments. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 59 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with a debilitating condition.

Two physicians must diagnose a child’s disabling medical condition for cannabis in Colorado

Under Colorado’s existing law, children under the age of 18 must first be diagnosed with a disabling medical condition by a minimum of two physicians in order to be added to the state’s medical cannabis registry. One of those healthcare professionals must be a board-certified pediatrician, a board-certified family physician, or a board-certified psychiatrist for adults and children who can prove that he/she is included in the patient’s primary care provider team.

The bill aligns with the constitutional provisions for a debilitating medical condition and it states that the recommending physician must review the records of the physician or licensed mental health provider who provides the patient with a diagnosis. The bill also prompts Colorado’s board of health to gather the necessary research proving the cannabis plant’s safety and efficacy when used to treat pediatric conditions. Autism spectrum disorder is included in the list of qualifying pediatric conditions for medical cannabis.