Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper Vetoes Cannabis for Autism

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In many ways, Colorado has been leading the nation toward improved cannabis policies. Colorado voters were some of the first to pass a medical cannabis law in 2000, allowing patients with qualifying conditions to access cannabis-based medicines. By passing Amendment 64 in 2012, Colorado became the first state to undo prohibition of cannabis for adult users. However, advances in the state medical cannabis law have floundered while the focus for the state seems to be remain on the recreational side.

Although other states have already added or are working to add Autism Spectrum Disorders as qualifying conditions, the Governor of Colorado does not want Colorado to be one of them. State lawmakers passed House Bill 1263 before their session ended, hoping to add autism to the list of qualifying conditions. The Governor decided to use his veto power at a time when lawmakers can not override it.

Despite visits from families and autistic children on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, he still vetoed the bill. His veto cuts families off from a less-harm option for the management of a wide array of symptoms. The only positive aspect to this decision was his order to have the state look into the potential medical benefits of cannabis for those with autism.

For families who are desperate to stop self-harming behaviors, muscle spasms and even extreme social anxiety in their children, cannabis could be a safer alternative than the pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for these symptoms. It could also offer better symptom control for those who don’t respond to traditional treatments.

With the rate of autism diagnosis on the rise, more families every year are searching for better options for their children. Colorado should be helping lead the way, not turning its back on children and families who need compassion and support. Hopefully, lawmakers will push back against this veto in their next session or research will help convince the Governor to support a similar measure in the near future.


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Image Credit: Nick Youngson via Alpha Stock Images under CC BY-SA 3.0