Mother Says Marijuana 'Saved Life' of Autistic Son

A California mother's decision to treat her autistic son with marijuana is coming under fire from some in the medical community, who believe the treatment is unproven and could be harmful.

Mieko Hester-Perez says her son Joey was malnourished and out of control before the Brea, Calif. mother began feeding him marijuana brownies.

“He was 48 pounds and 10 years old,” Hester-Perez told Fox & Friends Monday morning. “You could see all his bones … His arms, legs, chest and torso were all the same size. He had extremely aggressive behavior. He was running out of our home. … He was unstable.”

Click here to watch Hester-Perez on Fox & Friends.

The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the use of marijuana in children to treat autism saying it has not been tested and could be dangerous.

Dr. Sharon Hirsch, of the University of Chicago Medical Center, told Fox & Friends she also believes the treatment could be dangerous.

“This child’s brain is still developing and we don’t know what adding this substance to his brain will do to it,” she said.

Hester-Perez used anecdotal evidence she found on the Internet and elsewhere touting the benefits of feeding autistic children marijuana and used that to convince Joey’s psychiatrist to write him a prescription for the drug, which is legal for medical use in California.

“I don’t think my son was going to die,” Hester-Perez said. “I know my son was going to die. I heard about this treatment … and made sure it was a choice I was comfortable with and his doctor was comfortable with.”

Hester-Perez said her son’s condition has improved since the marijuana regimen began.

Even so, pediatricians, like Hirsch, are worried about the long-term effects of treating children with a drug like marijuana.

“Certainly anytime you have a child with a chronic serious illness, you want to reach for something that will help,” Hirsch said. “But (in this case) you may be reaching for something that is more harmful than the illness itself.”

Hirsch added that although she has not treated Joey, she has treated children with similar symptoms of autism and has not had to “resort” to marijuana to treat them effectively.