NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — This past August a bill was signed into law in Louisiana that allows doctors to prescribe medicinal marijuana more freely to patients with a wide array of ailments, but this is the latest in a series of actions that stem back to the 1970s in the state.
“There’s a fear of addiction and a fear of seeing children or patients inebriated. Medical marijuana is not your first reaction when you hear the word autism, but when you work through your options, it might occur as a really good safe alternative,” says Katelyn Castleberry, a mother of two sons who have autism.
Castleberry treats her two sons, Ramsey and Bodi, with medicinal cannabis. They were diagnosed with autism at ages 3 and 4. Their mother feels hopeful because of medical marijuana.
It’s gaining ground in acceptance in recent years, as the FDA continues to warn the country about opioids and more states legalize marijuana in various capacities. Recently, Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana became the first HBCU to conduct marijuana research as well as developing their own line of medical products with Ilera Holistic Healthcare.
The freeways are aligned with cannabis oil billboards and celebrities are endorsing brands, as laws are loosened in regards to marijuana possession incarceration. Dr. Oludare Odumosu, Chief Executive Officer of leading therapeutic medicine cannabis company Zelira Therapeutics, says, “80 to 90% of the drugs on the marketplace are derived from natural compounds, for which cannabis has the longest documented history of efficacy and safety.”
Castleberry says life with two young boys is a joy, but raising family members with autism isn’t easy, especially with some of the few options available for treatment. Her sons Ramsey and Bodi would experience seizures and mood swings and a doctor once prescribed them benzodiazepines, psychoactive drugs with recently discovered risks.
About a year go, life changed when Katyln met another mom named Erica Daniels who shared her own story saying, “my son was eleven at the time and he went from having debilitating anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and meltdowns anywhere from two hours a day, five to seven days a week, and immediately they stopped after taking the marijuana medicine. That was a defining moment for me. I had to grapple with the question of if I was going to take this path of resistance.”
Erica Daniels is the founder of Hope Grows for Autism, a medical marijuana advocacy group, founded in 2016. She is also an advisor to Ilera Holistic Health’s line of Autism treatment medicine called “Hope.”
Hope launched a little over two years ago and is now in dispensaries in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and recently in the country of Australia. In Louisiana, hope currently costs around a hundred dollars for a bottle of oil that holds a little more than one fluid ounce. The oil is placed under the tongue and has varying results. Ilera says about 60% of patients have significant improvements and do not continue with other medicine.
“It has made our lives happier and healthier. One of my sons, rarely suffers from seizures. They are not as agitated. They are able to stop moving when they want to and take in the world,” Castleberry says.
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