More and more parents are looking to cannabis to help their children living with autism. Anecdotal reports from parents and adults with autism show that cannabis therapy helps repetitive or self-injurious behaviors, aggression, anxiety, hyperactivity and even language deficits. However, parents who wish to try it for their children encounter many roadblocks.
Currently, just 15 states allow the medical use of cannabis for individuals with autism. Some children may qualify for medical cannabis use due to other co-morbid conditions such as epilepsy, muscle spasms or pain.
If it is legal in their state, parents may find there is a lack of guidance on cannabis types and dosing. Federally, cannabis is still illegal, which prevents large scale studies from taking place.
One recent study in Israel has showed promising results. The authors state in their published report:
“Cannabis as a treatment for autism spectrum disorders patients appears to be well-tolerated, safe and seemingly effective option to relieve symptoms, mainly: seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and rage attacks. The compliance with the treatment regimen appears to be high with less than 15% stopping the treatment at six months follow-up. Overall, more than 80% of the parents reported at significant or moderate improvement in the child global assessment.” The full report can be found here.
Two other studies on Cannabis and Autism are currently underway.
One is taking place at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and is seeking to determine if CBD provides therapeutic benefit to children on the autism spectrum.
The second study , conducted through the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, seeks to track the number of children on the ASD spectrum who are using cannabis, and to provide standardized dosing guidance.
So, if you are researching cannabis as an option for your child with autism, where do you start?
If you are just beginning to research medical cannabis, first look into your state laws to see if it is a legal option for you.
Soulful Cannabis offers some great resources to learn about the many types of cannabis products, gear and concentrates. We also have patient FAQ’s that are especially helpful for patients in Pennsylvania. These are great places to start on your Cannabis journey.
To dive deeper into the science behind Cannabis, Leafly has a great Cannabis 101 series.
For help and support specific to Cannabis and ASD, there are several organizations that have been started by parents with children affected by ASD:
Hope Grows for Autism – Like Soulful Cannabis, they were founded in Pennsylvania. Their mission is to improve the lives of families affected by autism through research, education and advocacy of natural treatments. They are dedicated to bringing government and private sectors together to raise awareness, fund research, find treatments and support families affected by autism. They offer a patient assistance program, treatment trackers and discussion groups.
Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA) – They are a grassroots education group whose primary goal is to educate parents, caregivers, and doctors about the use of medical cannabis for autism and empower them to change the laws within their state. Their site offers information on current research and legislation in each state.
WPA4A – Their mission is to educate, and operate for, promote and support the education of, the public with respect to alternatives to traditional medicine for the treatment and management of autism. They offer webinars, newsletters and guides on cannabis, dosing and possible interactions with pharmaceuticals, among many other topics. Some of their resources are free, others must be bought. By becoming a member, you receive full access to all of their resources.
Finally, if as a parent you decide cannabis is the right course of treatment for your child, you may find that getting to a dispensary to purchase his or her product is a hardship. Soulful Cannabis has a Soulful Caregivers Program that can match you up with a trained, knowledgeable caregiver that can deliver your products to your home.