In this March 27, 2017 photo, Cara Tarricone gives her daughter, West, one of her two daily doses of cannabis oil at their home in North Windham, Conn. West was diagnosed with a severe epileptic disorder before her first birthday. After trying nearly two dozen medications, her family sought out medical marijuana to better control her seizures. (Lauren Schneiderman/Hartford Courant via AP)

Colorado could allow people — including kids — with autism to use medical marijuana

The proposal passed its first hurdle in the state legislature 12-1

In a clash of deeply felt testimony, parents in tears pleaded with Colorado lawmakers on Friday to pass a bill allowing their children with autism to use medical marijuana as a treatment.

“I’m begging you to approve this bill,” said Jamie Kropp, whose son, Kolt, has autism.

Psychiatrists and the head of the state Health Department, though, opposed writing such a permission into law, saying there isn’t enough evidence to know that cannabis would do more good than harm, even though they sympathize with the frustration families feel.

Related: Texas judge weighs whether father who treated autistic daughter with marijuana is fit to be her guardian

“There is no easy answer,” said Dr. Meghan Schott, a psychiatrist with Denver Health. “… But, unfortunately, marijuana is not the answer at this point because we don’t have any research that supports that marijuana will be effective in the long-term.”

At the end of more than five hours of testimony and debate, lawmakers on the state House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee approved the bill by a 12-1 vote, the first of several hurdles at the Capitol that it must clear  before becoming law.

The bill, House Bill 18-1263, would allow doctors to recommend marijuana as a treatment for symptoms suffered by anyone diagnosed on the autism spectrum. An initial provision in the bill that also would have qualified acute pain as a condition meriting cannabis was stripped out before the committee’s final vote.

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