The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) approved on Tuesday the use of medical marijuana as a treatment for autism. The decision is effective immediately and is “a final action of RIDOH, subject to judicial approval,” according to a report from local media.
The health department’s decision places several requirements on doctors who decide to recommend medical marijuana for their autistic patients. Physicians are directed to consider “pharmaceutic grade forms of pure CBD” before recommending medical marijuana. Doctors must also document the reasons for using medical marijuana and the decision not to use pharmaceutical alternatives. They must also consult with specialists in the fields of child psychiatry, pediatric neurology, or developmental pediatrics and make an assessment of progress at least three months after the patient’s initial dosage of medicinal cannabis. Doctors must discontinue the use of medical marijuana if they do not see an improvement in the patient’s condition.
Joseph Wendelken, a RIDOH public information officer, said the requirements were intended “to ensure that the patient’s physician is consulting with the appropriate subspecialist to evaluate the risks and benefits.”
Parents Urge Approval
In April, parents petitioned the health department to allow them to use cannabis therapies such as CBD to treat their autistic children,