Marijuana and Autism


Marijuana may be helpful for treating symptoms of autism. However, more research on the subject is needed.

Autism is a developmental disability often characterized by behavioral, social and communication issues.

Autism is part of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a set of developmental disabilities that were previously diagnosed separately but are now grouped together. ASD also includes Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders.

There is growing interest in using cannabis to treat autism symptoms, fueled by an increasing amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting its potential.

Can Cannabis Treat Autism?

Scientific research on marijuana and autism is lacking. But interest within the medical community is growing, and some parents are using cannabis to treat their children’s autism.

Thalia Michelle first heard about cannabis as a treatment option for her son’s autism in 2014. “The anecdotal stories blew my mind,” she says.

Her son Lance now takes a CBD oil with less than 0.3 percent THC, and he has experienced notable results. His aggression has been reduced by 85 percent, and his tantrums — which used to last hours — now last a much more manageable 5 or 10 minutes.

As a result, the family is able to do and enjoy more together. “We’ve been to the movies over half a dozen times [this year],” Michelle says. “This seems like a small thing, but for us it’s huge. Lance is far more amiable and compliant.”

Lance’s experience is part of a rising number of reports about families finding success with cannabis for ASD.

As stories like this one spread, more parents are becoming curious about marijuana’s potential in treating pediatric behavioral and developmental disorders like ASD.

This interest is evidenced by the rise of organizations like Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA). Michelle co-founded MAMMA and currently serves as the advocacy and policy director. The organization now has 12 state chapters across the country.

“The need is overwhelming,” Michelle says. “The majority of people who contact us have children with severe aggression and/or self-injury. These are families who have tried everything. They’ve tried every pharmaceutical available and their children are getting worse.”

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