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Families use medical marijuana to treat autism

December 27, 2018 07:51 AM

Some families are calling medical marijuana a miracle drug, after they've seen positive results when using it to treat autism in children.

New York has a strict list of qualifying conditions for a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana, and autism is not on the list.

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There are seven states that allow people on the spectrum to use medical marijuana. Some families say it has helped their child lower aggression, reduce self-harm and improve overall behavior.

So why isn't medical marijuana prescribed for autism in New York?

There is a lack of evidence on whether this actually works. There have been no large clinical trials to determine whether marijuana or a products containing it are safe and effective for treating children with autism.

Even so, reports from doctors and families have driven several states to allow it anyway.

News10NBC reached out to the state about this and we got a brief statement. Jill Montag, public information officer at the New York State Department of Health, says the state regularly reviews their medical marijuana program.

"Since New York's Medical Marijuana Program was first implemented, the Health Commissioner has been studying emerging science and has added more conditions to the program, such as chronic pain and opioid replacement," Montag wrote. "The Department's reviews are ongoing regarding conditions that could help expand the program further and increase access to this alternative treatment option."

Again, most of the doubt stems from a lack of research on the topic. The first large scale clinical trial on whether medical marijuana can treat children with autism just started at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. It is scheduled to end in 2021.

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