Advocates of Treating Autism with Cannabis Disavow "Partnership" with UC Irvine

A Denver biotech company and Los Angeles nonprofit foundation dedicated to the treatment of autism are disavowing their previously announced partnership with UC Irvine.

The clarification comes more into focus when you know the players. The firm, Cannabis Science, develops pharmaceutical products from marijuana plants. The Unconventional Foundation for Autism (UF4A) promotes cannabis-based medical research and clinical trials for those afflicted with the disorder.

A March 20 Cannabis Science announcement about its partnering with UF4A included this line:

"To date, we have already partnered with the University of California Irvine Medical Center to oversee our cannabis-based Autism research. Included in this group of advisors is the Dean of Medicine at UCI, and child psychiatrist Dr. Rebecca Hedrick, M.D."

The use of cannabis to treat autism is portrayed as the subject of a presentation Hedrick made earlier this year, according to the UF4A website.

However, this week, Cannabis Science released the following:

Cannabis Science wishes to clarify that the partnership is only a partnership with UF4A. Cannabis Science has no relationship or affiliation with the University of California, Irvine, the Dean of the UCI School of Medicine, or any of its faculty ("UCI"). UF4A has no affiliation with UC Irvine, though UC Irvine psychiatrist treats the autistic son of UF4A founder, Mieko Hester-Perez. Neither UCI nor Dr. Hedrick is conducting research into medical marijuana and autism.

Meiko Hester-Perez on an ABC News program.
Meiko Hester-Perez on an ABC News program.

Talk to any medical marijuana dispenser in Orange County about the healing benefits of the herb, and they will likely bring up the case of Brea's Mieko Hester-Perez and her son Joey, whose symptoms from autism have miraculously turned around thanks to cannabis.

Joey's story has been featured in the Orange County Register, Autism Spectrum Magazine, Now Magazine UK, Kush Magazine and High Times. Mieko has appeared in numerous radio and television interviews, including on 20/20, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, CBS Early Show, KCBS 2 and KCAL 9 in LA, KABC TV stations in LA and San Francisco, KABC 790 with Peter Tilden, The Tom Joyner Show, The Bill Press Show and the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML) podcast with Russ Belville.

Hester-Perez, a fixture at cannabis conventions, was was recognized by NORML's Woman's Alliance as one of the women in 2010 making history in the medical-marijuana movement.

The new announcement makes it clear that she is still using cannabis to help her son, it just cuts Hedrick and UCI out of the equation when it comes to the pioneering treatment:

After exhausting all traditional medical options and with Hester-Perez's son's life in question, Hester-Perez chose to augment her son's therapy with cannabis under a state compliant recommendation. As a result, her son saw marked improvement and was able to eliminate approximately 80% of the prescription drugs from his daily regimen.


Hester-Perez attributes dramatic improvements in her son's behavior and overall health to the addition of cannabis to his treatment. Approximately 10 other autistic persons have seen improvements since augmenting their therapy with cannabis within UF4A's case studies. She hopes this will form the basis for official academic research in the future.

Besides extolling the promise of a new autism treatment, UF4A advocates rescheduling cannabis from Schedule 1 narcotic (no accepted medical benefits) to a lower schedule so that "the appropriate research may be conducted, and so that all patients have access to medication."

Universities may line up to be partners should that ever happen.


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