Can Medical Marijuana Help Severely Autistic Children? | NBC Southern California

Can Medical Marijuana Help Severely Autistic Children?

While medical marijuana is used to treat dozens of ailments, one mother swears by it to help her severely autistic son.

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    While medical marijuana is used to treat dozens of ailments, one mother swears by it to help her severely autistic son. (Published Wednesday, July 6, 2011)

    While medical marijuana is used to treat dozens of ailments, one mother swears by it to help her severely autistic son.

    In fact, she's convinced pot has saved his life.

    Meiko Hester-Perez gives her severely autistic 12-year old son Joey the marijuana in chocolate.

    "When your son is knocking on deaths door there's nothing you won't do," according to Meiko Hester-Perez. "It happened to be cannabis for our family."

    Hester-Perez didn't make the decision lightly, two and a half years ago Joey only weighed 42 pounds. A stark contrast to his current weight of 112 pounds.

    "My son was absolutely withering away. You could see the bones in his chest," according to Hester-Perez.

    Out of desperation, she Googled cannabis and autism, and realized she wasn't the only one who made the connection.

    Other parents and autism experts found success with medical marijuana as a treatment for autistic children.

    The first time Hester-Perez gave Joey a pot brownie she saw almost immediate results.

    "Everything has improved. Right now, he's given one brownie every two to three days, whereas the other medications he was taking every single day, twice a day," according to Hester-Perez.

    But there are those who aren't sold on the idea.

    Doctor Seth Ammeran says using medical marijuana to treat autism is cause for concern because there has been no research on the topic.

    "Parents have the best interest of their kids at heart, and they want to do what's best for their kids, but as a medical professional who really needs to look at the science behind recommendations, I can't in good conscious recommend it," says Dr. Seth Ammeran, of the American Academy of Pediatrics Substance Abuse Committee.

    But Hester-Perez says the research is there, it's just not being done in the traditional sense.

    "Whether we like it or not, the studies are being done," says Hester-Perez, "and they're being done within our homes."