Oklahoma Parents Fight for the Right to Give Autistic Son Medical Marijuana

Oklahoma Parents Fight for the Right to Give Autistic Son Medical Marijuana

YUKON, OK — All too often in the debate about reforming marijuana laws, politicians and police officers ask the tired question “what will happen to our kids if we legalize medical marijuana?” One family in Oklahoma is now asking the same question, but in a new context — they want to be able to give it to their 7 year-old autistic son.

Gill and Catherine Mejias love their 7 year old son Deacon, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Hearing that a child has autism can be a devastating experience, because there is no cure and there is no standard therapy, but the Mejias family would like to be able to treat Deacon’s autism with medical marijuana.

The Mejias family has tried a long list of doctor prescribed medications, as well as alternative treatments. Nothing has worked. Prescription medications make Deacon have mood swings, hyperactivity, and deep depression. They said Deacon can’t get the help that he really needs because it’s not legal yet in Oklahoma.

Deacon Mejias was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old.

Deacon Mejias was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old.

Autism has caused Deacon to become aggressive, anxious, and uncontrollable at times. When Deacon is not in school, swinging is one of the few activities that keeps him calm. The Mejiases have had to install swings in every room of their house to keep Deacon occupied and content.

“It’s like crisis mode all the time just trying to make it through the day, and that’s no way for any of our children to live,” says Deacon’s mother, Catherine.

“Quality of life is what it boils down to and he deserves to be able to enjoy life, to have a smile and have fun and all the things that make life, life,” Gill Mejias, Deacon’s father, added. “Deacon is trying to reach out to the world but because he can’t relax and focus, he can’t understand.”

Now 7, swinging is one of the few activities that keeps Deacon calm. The Mejiases have had to install swings in every room of their house to keep Deacon occupied and content. (KFOR)

Even though they are confident medical marijuana could be just what Deacon needs, the Mejias, a law abiding family, said they are only willing to treat Deacon with medical marijuana if it becomes legal in Oklahoma, adding that moving to another state will be “our only option” if the state legislature doesn’t legalize medical marijuana.

“I just want to give it a try, I’m willing to try anything for him,” Catherine said.

Last year, State Senator Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) introduced Senate Bill 573, the Compassionate Use Act, which would remove criminal penalties for possession and cultivation of marijuana from patients and caregivers who cultivate marijuana for a patient’s medical use upon a doctor’s recommendation.

Legalizing medical marijuana in Oklahoma is an uphill battle, however. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has gone on record saying that she will veto any legislation endorsing medical marijuana, even if Senate Bill 573 were to pass, and that doesn’t sit well with Sen. Johnson.

“I think the people who want to close their ears and don’t want to hear about it, [saying] ‘I’ll never vote for it,’ that’s not what we are here to do as elected officials,” says Sen. Johnson. “We are here to be the voice for the people.”

“We are here to be the voice for the people,” says Sen. Constance Johnson, who has introduced a medical marijuana bill to the Oklahoma legislature.

Other politicians, like State Repesentative Dr. Mike Ritze, disagree, saying that treating children with pot is risky business.  “I can’t condone it,” Dr. Ritze told KFOR-TV.  “I can’t disagree if they say it works, but I would advise them that they’re dealing with a double-edged sword.”

The Autism Research Institute, however, reports that marijuana has significantly lessened symptoms such as anxiety, aggression, panic disorder, tantrums, and self-injurious behavior in many autistic children, and the Mejiases are certainly not the first family that have wanted to treat their children with medical marijuana.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Public Health, the state has four minor children enrolled in their medical marijuana program as of December 2010.  One of those children is the son of  Marie Myung-Ok Lee, an award winning author who teaches at Brown University. In a three-part essay written in 2009 and 2010, Lee writes about the treatment of her then 9 year old son with his special cannabis cookies.

“The more I’d been reading, along with [his] doctor, about the effects of cannabis—analgesic, anti-anxiety, safe—the more it seemed a logical choice,” Lee wrote about her decision to try medical marijuana for her son in lieu of sedating, antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal—Thorazine for kids.

At first, her son’s doctor prescribed Marinol, an FDA-approved drug which contains a synthetic cannabinoid. The Marinol helped her son for a little while, helping his behavior improve at school. But like many patients who have been prescribed Marinol, her son began to build up a tolerance for the synthetic, and her son’s aggressive behavior returned. Shortly thereafter, Lee asked her son’s doctor for medical marijuana recommendation, and he became the state’s youngest licensed patient.

Sometimes, however, a doctor’s recommendation isn’t enough, even in the 16 states that allow medical marijuana.

In 2009, a single mother in California, Debbie Jeffries, was using medical marijuana to treat her son, who was eight at the time. Despite medical marijuana being legal in California, Child Protective Services took Debbie to court accusing her of being an unfit mother and putting her son at risk. In a closed court hearing, it took less than an hour for a juvenile court judge to dismiss the charges.

In the Jeffries case, as with most children receiving medical marijuana, parents bake the medicine into cookies, brownies, and other edibles in lieu of having them smoke it.

For Deacon Mejias, medical marijuana may some day hold the key to being able to enjoy life. Until then, the Mejias have become one of a growing number of families that are waiting for lawmakers to make a decision while young lives hang in the balance.

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  • dorisfrench

    Our state legislature is made up of people who will never let this happen.  They are backward thinking misogynistic bigots.

  • Maryjane6640

    people need to mind there own business and goverment sucks they need to do there job right.

  • Samii

    Just let the kid get well huh? How about that? No? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patricia-Herrera/100000931138671 Patricia Herrera

    i SAY ANYTHING THAT HELP GET THESE KIDS THROUGH THE DAY IS WORTH A TRY MY SON IS AUTISTIC AND I WOULD TRY ANYTHING TO HELP HIM

  • Guest

    It saddens me that these parents can’t even have the option to try something that has never been proven to cause any serious harm. Meanwhile these doctors have this little boy on meds that have a long long list of intolerable, unacceptable, and dangerous side effects.

    “Quality of life is what it boils down to and he deserves to be able to
    enjoy life, to have a smile and have fun and all the things that make
    life, life,” Gill Mejias, Deacon’s father, added. ”Deacon is trying to
    reach out to the world but because he can’t relax and focus, he can’t
    understand.”

  • Roob_1193

    Damn, Obviously the science and facts are there to back up medical marijuana, so why doesn’t the government just realize that? It could be put to use for good and healing the people and start improving lives in all eras of medicine, but no, they’d rather prescribe highly addictive medications that Don’t work. I don’t understand their mentality.

  • Dandamrath

    Its to bad a 7 year old suffers because of the ignorance of the government.

    • Dandamrath

       appears there is more common sense on this page, pretty clear people want the government to back off this subject.

  • OkColleen

    As a parent of 2 autistic children, I would be thrilled to be able to give this to my kids, in lieu of the psychotic crap we give them now.  We are constantly trying new drugs, how good can that be for them in the long run?  Since hearing of this medical “pot, I researched it quite a bit, and it looks to me, that it would be much MUCH safer for our children than what they are taking right now.  PLEASE OKLAHOMA, DO THE RIGHT THING!  You bet, if Gov Fallen had a child with autism, she wouldn’t hesitate to sign that bill. 
    colleen evans, OKC

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rmchamberlin Robert M Chamberlin

    This has been tested for over 30 years – Cannabis is the most beneficial herb on the planet, and the science is there to prove it – over 20,000 entries in PUBMED on it.  Many of us are asking the question – Prohibition – what’s in it for them?  Drug companies are rushing to get their “synthetics” on the market, which are almost as good as the plant.  It has to be about the money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mcbeehicken Susan McBee Hicken

    medicine

  • Helpinreno

    my son is also autstic and now 18 he can do it on his own but let me tell you the only thing that ever worked was when his freind got him high and he was happy and calm for the first time in 18 years

  • Nmillhollon

    Absolutely agree with giving it a shot! Why not! There is no proof that marijuana causes any serious harm…synthetic drugs, however…where to even begin? Give these parents and give US the power to make informed decisions about our own bodies!!

  • Timoriastar

    We are voting in politicians that say they will look into it. Even Obama said it was somthing worth discussing then sent the DEA to attack the very states that legalized for medical use. The govenors of these states have been threatened with impriosonment.
      War is money period if it is waged in another country or on our own soil.
       I see where some comments said “why cant the goverment see the medical benifits”. Do the reserch and you will see they have known for years.  75 years ago doctors perscribed it for almost everything.
      Any study showing that it could be used a medication have been dismissed by the goverment.
      Any study proving it is not a “demonic weed” have also beeen dismissed.  
       So the only conclusion I have is it is all about the  MONEY.
     

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