House Speaker Greg Stumbo explains why he's now open to legalizing medical marijuana in Ky.

10/03/2013 08:27 AM

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said he switched his position and is now open to allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes after learning that it could help children with autism.

Stumbo was one of the lawmakers earlier this year most stringently opposed to allowing industrial hemp — another cannabis plant — to be grown, but he says he’s “leaning toward supporting” marijuana for medicinal uses.

Greg and Mary Karen Stumbo run a Stumbo Family Foundation that works with other agencies to bring resources for autism research and early diagnosis. Through that effort, Stumbo says he was approached by parents of autistic children who doctors said could be helped with marijuana.

“It came to our attention through some parents recently within the last six-months or so about the issue of medical marijuana and how it could be used to help some of these children and young folks,” Stumbo said. “I took an interest in it. Did some preliminary research and believe that…it ought to be debated.”

A study released in April conducted by professors at Stanford University showed marijuana could create pathways between neurons that are blocked by mutations in the brains of children with autism spectrum disorder.

When Stumbo looked into medicinal marijuana research he said it led him to a better understanding of how the drug could help children with autism.

“I think there is a growing field of evidence that in certain instances, and I’ve got testimony from people whose children are afflicted that doctors have told them this could help with the behavior problems, this could help with some of the problems with people with autism have,” Stumbo said.

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which the DEA says is “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules.” Under law Schedule I drugs have no “currently accepted” medicinal use.


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