Hope grows together

A Film of Courage, A Headline of Fear

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While April is National Autism Awareness Month—there were two significant headlines. First was the release of the documentary, Weediatrics. After three years of filming and writing and another year of the film’s distribution being met with resistance from various TV and Digital Executives…the broader public was able to see firsthand the pain, struggle, and darkness of parenting a child on the spectrum. But the film also highlighted our small victories—achieved mostly from our own advocacy and determination to access the medicine our children need.

Later that month, this headline in the New York times: Teenage Brains May Be Especially Vulnerable to Marijuana and Other Drugs.  The article highlighted a study led by scientists at the National Institute On Drug Abuse.

One step forward–two steps back: The film’s producers embedded themselves in the lives of several families to document our unique struggles within our homes and within law enforcement.

The headline above, cherry-picked a large study that included various substances and once again made marijuana out to be the bad guy; carelessly grouping marijuana with carcinogens, narcotics, and alcohol. All of which are far more dangerous than a plant.

Once again, the headline perpetuated an antiquated fear, outdated science, and no regard for using discrepancy in regard to the medicinal use of cannabis. Why is this so important? Because we are still, to this day, fighting stigmas and one-sided research to ensure our children have access to some relief, some hope.

Should healthy, thriving young people be using marijuana? No. They shouldn’t be using alcohol, opioids, or tobacco either. But they do. They have been for a long, long time.  Our parental community isn’t advocating for recreational use among minors. We are advocating for at least a mention so that people understand the distinction. Alcohol and tobacco do not treat ailments. Opioids are prescribed for minimal use under the direction of a doctor (even though there is mounting evidence they shouldn’t be used at all).  Further, all these substances contribute directly or indirectly to disease, mental illness, and death. There is no record of anyone dying from an overdose of cannabis—yet marijuana is the only substance named in the headline. Go figure.

I have a teenage daughter who is not on the spectrum. I do not want her experimenting with cannabis or alcohol or anything else she could use in the wrong way because frankly, she does not have the maturity to regulate it properly. But she does understand my son does not just use it; he needs it. It is truly his lifeline. It has saved his life and mine—and if you watch Weediatricsyou will see I am not alone.

Am I overreacting to the study? No, because it is not the study that is offensive—it’s the lack of understanding that marijuana is not just a safer alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals, it is the only option.  Cannabis was my last resort, but it should have been my first line of defense.

I would encourage you to watch the documentary and then re-read the headline.  While the government is spending millions of dollars conducting studies on the plant, nearly all of the focus is on its negative effects. There is no doubt that collective studies and scientific statistics can be valuable and have a place in certain contexts. However, there is no way to measure the kind of pain and suffering my family has endured. I do not need to look at the research. I live the experiment every day—and I stand with all the parents who are right by my side.

Weediatrics can be found on Google Play, Apple TV and Amazon.


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