Panel Won't Recommend Medical Marijuana for Autism, Asthma

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A panel of doctors and medical experts will not initially recommend medical marijuana as a legal treatment for people suffering from asthma or autism.

The ten-member panel will, on the other hand, initially recommend medical marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. A petition for insomnia patients will be discussed again at a later time.

Michigan voters approved a law in 2008 legalizing medical marijuana, setting up the panel in the process.

The group discussed each issue, taking past public comments into consideration, before voting. The recommendations are not final; a public hearing will take place on each of the four medical conditions before the committee reexamines the issues.

"There are thousands upon thousands, over 50,000 Michigan patients that could be affected by this ruling," said Becca Hollandsworth of the R.C. Randall Memorial Wellness Center. "Each of these illnesses have been very well scientifically shown that medical marijuana is a great option for it. As far as abuse of it goes, it's something that nobody has ever overdosed on and died from."

Doctors agreed that there had not been a marijuana overdose, to their memory. But issues arose on different standards for children and adults.

Some wondered about the effect of marijuana on a minor's brain development and others questioned the drug's effectiveness in some cases. For example, although marijuana has been found to help people fall asleep, it only provides a few hours of relief at a time for insomniacs.

Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) says he supports medical marijuana in some cases, but added there are some legal conditions in which the drug doesn't help -- or may even cause harm.

"In my senate judiciary committee, I had experts come in, scientists from the University of Michigan, doctors of ophthalmology that begged us please, get glaucoma off the list," he said. "It simply doesn't work. That's horrifying that we have marijuana prescribed for something that it's really not working. And these are the best experts in the state that have come into my committee and said, this is a bad thing for Michigan."

Jones says he wants the panel to be able to take certain conditions off the approved list if it sees fit.

Each petition will be open for public comment at a date within 60 days, yet to be determined, after which the committee will meet again and discuss revising its recommendations.

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