A mother whose son has autism is asking legislators to support a bill that will help parents like herself.
Ardell Nelson of Hettinger, ND has a forty-nine -year old son named Craig who has suffered from Autism Spectrum Disorder since he was a child.
He is currently staying at the Life Skills and Transition Center in Grafton, ND, and it is more than 400 miles away.
“The self-abuse, head banging, traumatic brain injuries have resulted in him being incapacitated. He can’t walk or do things for himself,” said Nelson.
She visits her son about two to three times a year, and she said the years of fits and headbanging have left cracks along his skull.
“You can see like a boiled egg. You crack a boiled egg before you peel it. . . he has little white lines all over his head,” said Nelson.
Over the years she and the doctors were never able to find a drug that could help her son cope with autism.
“They tried all kinds of psychotic drugs: Ritalin, muscle relaxers. Things like anti-depressants.You name it -they tried it,” said Nelson.
However, there is currently a bill in the house, HB 1519, being voted on in the upcoming days, that would put autism on the list of “debilitating medical conditions” under NDCC: 19-24.1-01, so it can be treated with medical marijuana.
Nelson and other supporters of the bill said there have been widespread anecdotal reports in the U.S. and abroad of the drug’s ability to treat autism.
“There is nothing out there except the medical cannabis that will get them to that level. It has been proven by research,” said Nelson.
One of the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Ben Koppelman of District 16, said part of the bill has already been struck out.
The portion that would give health care providers some flexibility on the form and amount they can authorize to a minor.
It read, ” A health care provider may expressly authorize a minor to use a form of usable marijuana which is not limited to pediatric medical marijuana”.
According to the law, a minor is someone under the age of 19, and NDCC 19-24.1-01 reads, ” ‘Pediatric medical marijuana’ means a medical marijuana product containing cannabidiol which may not contain a maximum concentration or amount of tetrahydrocannabinol of more than six percent”.
Some parents of autistic children wish that part had been left in.
“People trying to wean their children off of strong pharmaceuticals . . . their cannabis needs are higher. The North Dakota limit is 2000mg”.
Nelson said she’s already out there sending letters, e-mails, and talking to legislators to support the bill, because she doesn’t want another parent to go through what she has.
“I would not be waiting for a phone call that my son has died if they had something to stop those behaviors”.
Koppelman also said they’re working on adding more conditions under the bill that medical marijuana would cover:
Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Anxiety Disorder, Tourette Syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Endometriosis, Interstitial Cystitis, Neuropathy, Opioid Use Disorder, Opioid Withdrawl, Migraine, Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Koppelman said the House might vote on the bill Friday or Monday.
Mother whose son has autism is in support of a house bill to be voted on