Arizona moms want lawmakers to 'legalize autism' for cannabis treatment

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A couple of Arizona moms say cannabis has been very helpful for treating their autistic sons. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A couple of Arizona moms say cannabis has been very helpful for treating their autistic sons. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Brandy Williams got her son Logan qualified for a patient card because of his seizures. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Brandy Williams got her son Logan qualified for a patient card because of his seizures. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Williams says a few drops of cannabis oil each day has dramatically improved Logan's autism. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Williams says a few drops of cannabis oil each day has dramatically improved Logan's autism. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Erica Smith said anything has to be better than the traditional antipsychotic medication her 6-year-old autistic son tried. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Erica Smith said anything has to be better than the traditional antipsychotic medication her 6-year-old autistic son tried. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Autism Society don’t support the use of cannabis to treat autism-related disorders, in part because of a lack of research on the topic. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Autism Society don’t support the use of cannabis to treat autism-related disorders, in part because of a lack of research on the topic. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Arizona law spells out about a dozen medical conditions that can qualify someone for a medical marijuana card. Autism isn’t one of them.

On World Autism Awareness Day, a group of Valley moms went to the state capitol to press for changes that would allow children with autism to qualify for medical patient cards.

Currently, parents wishing to administer cannabis to their children must get them qualified on other medical conditions.

Brandy Williams got her son Logan qualified for a patient card because of his seizures. But she says a few drops of cannabis oil each day has dramatically improved his autism.

Before cannabis, she says Logan was non-verbal and prone to bashing his head dozens of times a day. Now, she said he’s speaking, reading and attending school full-time.

To qualify for medical marijuana, patients must have a “debilitating medical condition” but Arizona law gives the Department of Health Services the final say, and there is skepticism among the medical community.

[RELATED: Some parents praise cannabis to treat autism, other disorders despite lack of research (May 18, 2017)]

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Autism Society don’t support the use of cannabis to treat autism-related disorders, in part because of a lack of research on the topic.

“If autism isn’t a debilitating condition, I don’t know what is,” said Williams, the president of Arizona Moms Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism.

Williams said four states list autism as a qualifying condition. Three other states, including California, allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana as they see fit.

Erica Smith said anything has to be better than the traditional antipsychotic medication her 6-year-old autistic son tried.

“With that treatment, within 48 hours, our son became manic,” she said. “Our son was trying to harm himself. He was jumping off furniture, running into walls.”

She’s getting ready to give her son Enoch marijuana for the first time, technically for his seizures, but she thinks other families with autism should have the same chance.

“There are so many people that we know are already on cannabis that they've seen tremendous results for their kids, and we just want to see that for our son as well,” she said. “We just want him to be as comfortable in his own body as he can be.”

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Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

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Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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