April 2, National Autism Day, is when Gov. Jared Polis signed into law House Bill 1028, which will let children on the autism spectrum be treated with medical marijuana.
State Reps. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder, and Kim Ransom, R-Lone Tree, failed to persuade then-Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign the 2018 version. This year, they succeeded with Polis.
Hickenlooper cited a lack of scientific research into the efficacy of medical marijuana to treat autism. He authorized the Department of Public Health and Environment to do a two-year study, but the department instead is looking at CBD oil.
Polis had no such qualms, promising during the 2018 campaign that he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.
Tuesday, Polis was surrounded by families who have advocated for the law for two years.
In signing HB 1028 into law, “we are expanding patient access to cannabis products for those with autism,” he said. “Cannabis can be a game-changer for those with autism. We should err on the side of patient access” and for families who live with autism.
Hooton said families came to her two years ago after not getting help from Hickenlooper .
“This is a victory for these families,” she said. “It is such a privilege and honor to really make a difference for families who have been suffering with children with severe autism spectrum disorder.”
Jackie Bess of Aurora said her family tried 10 medications to help son Jackson, but it was medical marijuana that helped. Her son is doing better in school and tolerates frustration better, to the amazement of his school, she said at the bill signing.
Michelle Walker helped lead the fight for medical marijuana use for autism. Her son has used it for years because he has a qualifying seizure disorder. But he also has severe autism, and medical pot has helped with his aggressive behavior and his handling of high-pressure situations — such as a bill signing amid a crowd, TV lights and cameras. He handled it very calmly, she said, and his cognitive abilities have blossomed, He even taught himself to read, the proud mother said.