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Medical marijuana in the treatment of autism

Author: Jenny Richards
Published: Sep 1 2015

Autism is a development disorder that most doctors will diagnose within the first three years of life. Autism Spectrum Disorder also referred to as ASD or simply Autism often affects the individuals social and communication skills. The cause of autism is not yet known although it is associated with abnormal brain chemistry. Since the genesis is unknown, most of the medication prescribed for autism is to treat the symptoms of the disease but does not actually cure the disease. Some extreme versions of the conditions affect the entire lifetime of the individual making it almost impossible for them to lead a normal lifestyle.

Medical marijuana

Some of the frustrations of people with autism include intense tantrums that may lead to self inflicted harm or violence towards others. This has led to the intense search for a solution to these symptoms. Medical marijuana is one of the solutions that some researchers have come up with for treating autism. Medical marijuana is believed to have a wide range of medical benefits, some of which are yet to be discovered. There is a lot of evidence in using medical marijuana to manage the condition without the negative side effects of using pharmaceutical products, such as liver and kidney damage.


Cannabinoids are one of the extracts found in the marijuana plant. The body itself produces its own cannabinoids; it is also possible to produce this synthetically. Researchers have found that the cannabinoids interacts with the endocannabinoid system of the body. This leads to the regulation of emotions that cause violence and disruptiveness in the individual. The cannabinoids interaction also acts as a neuroprotector preventing further degradation of brain cells and worsening of the condition.

Administering treatment

Managing autistic symptoms mainly focuses on tempering patient’s mood. Once the individual is calm and responsive, you can try to teach and condition him into better behavioral practices. An oral dose of medical marijuana can help to manage the patients’ mood and make them calmer. Although cannabis has no lethal dose, the doctor is going to determine the dosage based on the needs of the patient. Marijuana is also safe for self-medicating and older patients can manage their own treatment plan.

Marijuana treatment for autism couples with good nutrition and social therapy in order to achieve a complete behavioural change. The mixture of Cannabinnoids (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana helps to control the seizures associated with Autism as well as the brain activity of the individual. So far, the use of marijuana in autism treatment has been use on patients as young as three and four years old.

Marijuana for autism and legislation

Most states do not recognize the use of marijuana to treat Autism. Some doctors believe that the use of medical marijuana on Autism patients is still greatly speculative, as only a few cases have benefited from the treatment. There are many activists still working hard on adding Autism to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana. Some doctors restrict the use of medical marijuana to severe autism cases.


Dr. Henry Letterman is a lead researcher in the uses of medical marijuana and has been at the forefront in advocating for the legalization of the plant. You can read more about medical marijuana dispensaries here.

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