Great news! The Department of of Health has announced that Rhode Island families can now access medical marijuana to treat autism. The decision was issued this week after a petition was filed in April to add autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
The announcement imposes some stipulations for physicians interested in recommending medical marijuana for patients with ASD, including that they first try FDA-approved medications and CBD products. The statement can be read in full here.
The Health Department held a public hearing on ASD and medical marijuana in August. At the hearing, Nicole Cervantes, a mother of a son with ASD, testified that CBD had significantly improved her child’s condition. “He has been able to focus more,” she said. “He no longer bangs his head.”
In recent years, families across the country have spoken out about how medical marijuana has helped minimize the worst symptoms of ASD. Rhode Island now joins seven other states that make some allowance for medical marijuana in the treatment of autism.
This is a great step forward for Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program. Let’s keep working to make further improvements to the state’s marijuana policies.
In an unexpected slap in the face to local medical marijuana patients, last week the Rhode Island Health Department announced that it had rejected all 15 applicants to open the state’s first medical marijuana compassion center. Officials were originally supposed to reward the first licenses in June, but postponed after a series of delays. Rhode Island’s law calls for at least one, and up to three compassion centers to provide patients with safe access to their medicine.
So why weren’t any applications accepted? Well, because some had too many pages.
Nine applications fell short of the minimum score in the review process and the rest were disqualified for failing to comply with rules for applying.
The health department received eight formal letters of concern. Some letters questioned why an application exceeded the allowable page limit. Others raised issues about zoning requirements, site control, financing issues and residency requirements.
Locals are justifiably outraged, and organized a rally outside the Health Department yesterday to protest the decision.
“This is just horrible,” JoAnne Leppanen, executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, told the Providence Journal. “This is such a disappointment that I cannot even tell you. I feel like the patients’ welfare is being lost in a bureaucratic haze.”