Passion Prevails Colorado House approves bill to add autism to medical cannabis qualification list

House Bill 19-1028, which seeks to add autism spectrum disorders to the list of disabling qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use in the state of Colorado, was approved unanimously in the House with a 63-0 vote on Feb. 7. It was originally passed by the Colorado House of Representatives Health Committee and moved to be filed by Rep. Edie Hooton just short of three weeks after its introduction on Jan. 23.

The language in HB-19-1028 states that under current law, any minor who seeks to consume medical cannabis as treatment for a disabling medical condition must be diagnosed by two physicians. “Under current law, a child under 18 years of age who wants to be added to the medical marijuana registry for a disabling medical condition must be diagnosed as having a disabling medical condition by two physicians, one of whom must be a board-certified pediatrician, a board-certified family physician, or a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist who attests that he or she is part of the patient’s primary care provider team,” the bill states.

This will allow parents and guardians to safely administered medical cannabis products with the guidance of a doctor, while avoiding steep recreational taxes. Many parents involved in actively supporting this bill, as well as a handful of legislators, believe that children could greatly benefit from medical cannabis by helping with their cognitive and verbal abilities. One of HB-19-1028’s sponsors, Edie Hooton, presented a passionate argument in the House while deliberation occurred on Jan. 25. “Children who have epileptic seizures have been successfully treated with certain strains of medical marijuana,” she said to the House congregation. “We are not talking recreational, we’re talking medical, supervised by physicians who have given up the right to have malpractice insurance, to take coverage from Medicaid or Medicare . . . In the meantime, as legislators we have families coming to us in great need, and we because the state board of health will not act, we had to take action ourselves.”

“In the meantime, as legislators we have families coming to us in great need, and we because the state board of health will not act, we had to take action ourselves.”

 

Researchers who receive cannabis study grants may receive some instruction regarding the approach to cannabis treatments for minors with a variety of medical conditions. According to the bill summary, “The bill encourages the state board of health, when awarding marijuana study grants, to prioritize grants to gather objective scientific research regarding the efficacy and the safety of administering medical marijuana for pediatric conditions, including but not limited to autism spectrum disorder.”

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a similar bill last year to add autism to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis and as a result, an ongoing study was initiated to evaluate the effects of medical cannabis on symptoms associated with autism to prove the need for it. Currently, the qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in the state of Colorado are: Arthritis, cancer, cachexia, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, muscle spasms, PTSD, seizures, severe pain and severe nausea.

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