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Parents Push For Medical Marijuana Program To Include Autism

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Local parents made the compelling case Tuesday to expand the state's medical marijuana program.

The most dramatic testimony at the State Office Building came from parents who had children with autism. They said they had been able to get medical cannabis for other symptoms – such as seizures -- and they were stunned to see the help the cannabis provided for children who also suffered from autism.

Before the hearing in St. Paul, Vickie Grancarish showed pictures of her 14-year-old autistic son, Julian, who started beating himself a year ago.

"He began self-injuring to the point where he had six skull fractures, massive tissue damage," she said. "We could not stop him, we tried everything to stop him."

But because Julian also suffered from a seizure disorder, he qualified for medical marijuana.

"All self-injury and aggression stopped," she said. "The helmets were removed, he was able to return to school, he is my happy, sweet boy again."

Mother Heather Tidd has also seen the benefits of medical marijuana for her two adopted teens, who both suffer from PTSD after years in difficult foster homes.

"It was, for us, a miracle," she said. "We got our life back."

Another one of her kids has autism, and she would like to see the program expanded to help him.

"I just believe how well it worked for PTSD, I just really believe it would work for autism too," she said.

The decision on whether to expand medical marijuana program to autism and other conditions lies with the Minnesota Commissioner of the Department of Health, Dr. Ed Ellingher.

He has until Dec. 1 to make that decision.

WCCO reached out to Ellingher Tuesday and did not immediately hear back.

When Minnesota rolled out the medical marijuana program two years ago, people had to have one of just 10 qualifying conditions to get the drug. Those included cancer, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS, seizures and Chrohn's disease.

Back in August, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was added to the list of qualifying conditions.

In order to get medical marijuana in Minnesota, a doctor must first certify that the patient has one or more of the qualifying conditions.

The patient must then enroll in the state program.

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