Apr 28, 2016 8:05 AM

Medical Marijuana Treatment for Autism: How Can Weed Help Autistic Kids?

According to CDC statistics published in 2014, about 1 in 68 kids in the U.S. have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). But a recent parent survey suggests that the number may be significantly higher than we thought before. The survey showed that up to 1 in every 45 kids, from 3 to 17 years old, have been diagnosed with one of the forms of autism, and the prevalence of the disorder is only growing.

Currently, autism is not on the list of conditions that may be treated with medical cannabis. California and Washington, D.C. may be the only two exceptions to this rule since the local medical marijuana programs allow doctors to prescribe medical weed to any patient they think may benefit from it. In contrast to the lawmakers, parents who want to help their autistic children see marijuana as a very useful alternative to standard medications. But how can medical cannabis help those kids?

Parent surveys show marijuana's efficiency

Since autism cannot be cured, the only option left for parents is to use various therapies and medical treatments to manage the behavior and improve the life of their autistic kids. Medical marijuana is on the list of options.

The only problem with using medical cannabis to treat autism is the lack of science-based evidence. On the other hand, we have a lot of experience-based reports received from parents whose children benefited from using medical weed.

Usually, they use CBD-rich strains of cannabis or CBD oil; in some cases, THC oil, or a mix of THC and CBD oils works well, too. Marijuana helps improve autistic children's life on a few levels:

  • kids start to communicate better with those around them;
  • it is easier for them to concentrate on some things or actions for a longer period of time;
  • they have a better sleep;
  • those who had troubles with hyperactivity and anger management become more calm and equable.

But the main point is that medical cannabis may give all these benefits to children with autism without causing severe side effects like the traditional medications sometimes do.

Studies concur

According to a study published in Neuron, autism-related mutations in mice result in the lack of endocannabinoid signaling. But since cannabinoids can unblock a disruption in the cannabinoid receptors of the body, the scientists suggested that these compounds may be possibly used as a treatment for autism.

Another study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders same year says that there is a link between the endocannabinoid system and the amount of the immune cells in the bodies of children with autism. The researchers found that the immune dysfunction is linked to the higher levels of CB2 receptors. And since the condition is a contributing factor of ASD, the researchers suggest that cannabinoids that target CB2 receptors may relieve the symptoms of autism as well.

What is next?

It is obvious that to prove that medical weed is helpful for kids with ASD (and does not cause any significant harm to them) we need more studies and valid experimental data. But since marijuana remains a Schedule I substance, the scientists are hog-tied. The fact that autism is not on the list of conditions treated with medical cannabis makes the situation even worse.

There are a few massive initiatives, however, that fight for giving autism patients, especially kids, legal access to medical marijuana. MAMMA is one of the biggest and more active organizations whose main goal is to make medical weed legal across the entire country with autism as a qualifying condition. These people are currently changing the future of all those autism patients who want to become the medical cannabis patients as well.

And what do you think about the possibility of using cannabis to help kids with ASD? Share your thoughts with us—leave a comment.

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