Can cannabis treat Autism? These clinical trials intend to find out

By May 19, 2018Autism

There are claims that cannabis can be used be used to manage symptoms of Autism; however, the details regarding this subject are sketchy. To establish the truth behind these claims, two bi-coastal research teams intend to conduct studies that will act as a point of reference, in the coming days.

Researchers in New York are all set to commence a major research on whether non-psychoactive abilities of the cannabis plant can help manage Autism. In addition, researchers at the University of California, San Diego plan to launch medical cannabis trials on autistic kids, as well.

Though for some time now parents of kids suffering from autism have been advocating for cannabis accessibility, this new research is viewed as a major breakthrough, especially when it comes to embracing cannabis as a form of treatment for autism.


Autism is “a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate.” This is a brief description of the condition, given by the Autism Society of America.

The symptoms and severity of autism vary; hence, the reason why it is considered a “spectrum disorder”. These symptoms may include the inability to speak, frustration, anxiety, and seizures.

President of the Autism Society of America, Scott Badesch, attests that they have heard from many parents who have had success on using cannabis on their autism-ailing children. Meaning, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence supporting the effectiveness of cannabis in managing autism symptoms.

Parents’ view on Autism and Cannabis

Mieko Hester-Perez, a California resident tried 13 different pharmaceutical pills for her son’s condition. It wasn’t until she tried using medical cannabis brownies that her son Joey showed signs of improvement – started socializing, showed minimized signs of anxiety, and resumed playing with his toys. Not to mention, the host of side effects that the pharmaceutical treatments had on the young lad.

Leave Joey; enter Yuval who was also suffering from autism. After using the first supplement of medical cannabis, Yuval became less anxious and aggressive. Due to the improvements realized, Yuval’s mother, Abigail Darm, a native of Israel, embarked on carrying out her own study on autism and marijuana.

Cases of many parents celebrating the effectiveness of marijuana on autism are many. In the US, parents have never been more supportive of medical marijuana for autism treatment, as they are now.

The New York clinical trial

The research will be performed at NYU Langone and Montefiore Medical Center. A clinical psychiatrist at the medical center, Dr. Eric Hollander will be leading the project. Basically, they will be analyzing the effects of cannabinoids CBDV (a non-psychoactive compound) on children suffering from autism.

The pool sample will be of 5-18-year-olds, who will take part in double-blind, placebo-controlled research. Simply, this means, half of the participants will consume a fake compound as opposed to the real thing (CBDV).  Without knowing which sample pool used which compound, researchers will document the participants’ sociability, irritability, and ability to interact and adapt to the external world.

The University of California, San Diego research on CBD

Led by DR. Doris Trauner, MD, this second clinical trial will look at a sample pool of 30 autism-ailing kids, aged between 8-12 years.  It will last a period of one year and try to look at the effects of CBD on the participants. Again, half of the participants will take a placebo, as opposed to the actual CBD compound.

Researchers will analyze the behavioral changes and impact of CBD on neurotransmitters as well as on autism’s “biomarkers of neuroinflammation.”

The future is promising with this kind of research

It is good to note, these are not the only clinical studies done on autism and medical cannabis. However, the above studies are well-funded and noteworthy, particularly from the perspective of the American healthcare system. And because the available evidence is sketchy, many medical experts like MR. Badesch looks forward to more factual studies like the ones above.

A lot of people are confident that marijuana can help manage autism symptoms; however, these two major studies will now try to factually end the debate on the issue. In short, everybody, from parents to medical professionals expect these studies to lead to better understanding of marijuana and autism.

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