The Research on Marijuana for Autism in 2022

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There is a lot of research on the effects and benefits of marijuana for autism, with some studies suggesting that cannabis can be an effective treatment. Researchers are still working to understand exactly how this works, but it appears as though many people have used marijuana successfully in their own homes.

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Marijuana has the ability to alleviate some of the symptoms of autism. Marijuana supporters say it may help persons with autism by calming aberrant brain activity, improving cognitive functioning, and increasing sociability skills.

Marijuana remains prohibited at the federal level in 2021. As a consequence of the federal limitations, marijuana research studies are limited.

What Is Cannabis and How Does It Work?

Cannabis is derived from Cannabis sativa, one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants. Medical practitioners began to utilize cannabis to treat mental health issues and other illnesses in the nineteenth century.

Despite the fact that several states and nations have legalized tiny quantities of marijuana for recreational use, the substance remains illegal under federal law. It is classed as a Schedule I substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is the highest degree of drug classification.

As a result, there is a “conflicting spiral” around marijuana’s extensive medicinal usage. Because of the federal prohibitions, there is insufficient scientific data to prove its usefulness, yet the government says that there is insufficient scientific evidence to eliminate the limits on cannabis. Until this impasse is broken, marijuana research for autism will remain mostly hypothetical in 2021, with just a few modest trials pointing the way ahead.

For example, according to a 2019 article published in BMC Psychiatry, “there is currently insufficient evidence for cannabis use in [autism spectrum disorder],” but the researchers also stated that there is a “urgent need” for more studies and tests to examine the risks, benefits, and impact of using marijuana to treat autism spectrum disorder symptoms.

More treatment and therapy alternatives for persons with autism may be available as a result of this study. It may also avoid detrimental consequences from uncontrolled and unmonitored marijuana usage by families seeking to alleviate their loved ones’ autistic symptoms.

An Epilepsy Case Study

There has been some improvement. Epidiolex, a cannabis-based oral drug, was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration in 2018 for the treatment of a rare but severe type of pediatric epilepsy. Clinical studies of the drug indicated that it reduced seizure activity in people with epilepsy by up to 50%.

Epidiolex is made up of cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical component found in the Cannabis sativa plant.

Epidiolex’s success was aided in part by GW Pharmaceuticals, an English biopharmaceutical firm that produced and supplied the cannabis used in the drug’s clinical studies. It is still the first time the FDA has approved a cannabis-based drug.

Following the success of Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals began development on another cannabis-based medication to treat autistic symptoms. Many behavioral signs are shared by epilepsy and autism. The company’s creator told CNN that the two disorders “are on the same continuum,” pointing out that both have poor language skills, socioemotional inhibition, and cognitive function loss.

CBD & Abnormal Electrical Activity

Dr. Eric Hollander, the head of the Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Program, as well as the Anxiety and Depression Program at Montefiore Hospital in New York, receives cannabis grown by GW Pharmaceuticals from the United Kingdom.

This is because Dr. Hollander is one of the doctors who believes that cannabidiol has potential for treating autism spectrum disorder symptoms. He grounds this on the fact that CBD has been demonstrated to be useful in lowering seizure activity.

Even though people with autism are unlikely to experience seizures, autism generates “abnormal electrical activity” in the brain (“many neural system dysfunctions,” according to the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders). “Some of the disruptive behaviors actually become better” when anticonvulsant medicine reduces electrical activity, according to previous study.

This material piqued his interest as an autism researcher. He and other researchers theorize that because CBD helps with epilepsy by calming the brain’s electrical activity (for which it may be useful in treating anxiety disorders like social anxiety disorder), it may be useful in controlling the self-injury, meltdowns, and aggression that autistic people are prone to.

Treatments for epilepsy may teach us a lot.

Although the entire pathology of either ailment are unknown, Hollander believes that autism and epilepsy may have comparable origins. Using CBD to treat autism’s related symptoms might be a game-changer in terms of helping patients manage the disruptive behaviors that are a hallmark of the illness.

Cannabidiol was shown to have significant impacts on lowering seizures, enhancing social functioning, boosting cognitive functioning, and reducing repetitive or obsessive behavior in animal models that were comparable to autism. This sparked significant speculation about whether cannabidiol may be used to aid human patients with autism spectrum condition, particularly because a CBD-based medicine had previously shown effective in treating epilepsy in humans.

Factors that are unknown

Much is unclear about autism, and the use of marijuana for medical purposes is a contentious topic. The conventional medical profession is hesitant, but hopeful, about using cannabis-based drugs to treat autistic symptoms. Another doctor, who was not engaged in Dr. Hollander’s study, told CNN that the early reports of CBD being used to treat autistic patients gave him optimism.

Despite the fact that cannabis ingredients show promise, autism is such a complex illness that certain forms of the disorder may not respond to CBD therapy, or may react with unforeseen side effects.

CBD may assist just a minority of autistic patients and without any demonstrable standards, just as autism affects various individuals in very diverse ways. One of the difficulties physicians and therapists will have is determining which patients will react best to this therapy and whose symptoms will improve the most.

It’s possible that marijuana for autistic symptoms has little therapeutic efficacy for the vast majority of persons with autism. Doctors will need to monitor patients who attempt these novel therapies, just as they do with conventional pharmaceutical applications, and make adjustments to the treatment plan as warranted.

Israeli Science and Technology

Other recent study on marijuana and autism has shown positive findings, although there are some cautions.

Scientists in Israel (where medical cannabis is legal) were able to conduct experiments and discover that cannabis oil is “safe and effective” for the treatment of autism symptoms in “Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy,” a 2019 article in Scientific Reports. Thirty percent of the 188 autistic youths in the research saw a substantial improvement in their symptoms after six months of using the medicine. Over half of those surveyed indicated their symptoms had improved somewhat.

The research, however, was backed by Israel’s biggest national producer of medicinal cannabis, and several of the writers worked for it. Other critics questioned the short-term character of the follow-up research. As a consequence, further research with controls is required to confirm the results.

Other investigations (although in restricted circumstances) undertaken throughout the globe have backed up the conclusions of the 2019 Scientific Reports paper. Despite the limits of their own study, researchers publishing in Frontiers in Psychology stated, “Parents’ reports imply that cannabidiol may alleviate ASD comorbidity symptoms” and promote social responsiveness in autistic children.” Other investigations have corroborated these results.

Another research published in the Neurology journal, this one from Israel, found that out of 60 children in the study, over 60% of them improved their behavioral disorders after getting cannabis as part of their treatment.

The Toolbox’s Tools

Parents of children with autism should also wait for further evidence before resorting to medicinal cannabis as a therapeutic option, according to the main researcher. It’s still too early to say what the long-term consequences will be.

There were other drawbacks to being exposed to cannabis. The medicine caused a lack of appetite, exhaustion, and inconsistent sleep patterns in the children who took it. For certain children, parents and physicians will have to consider whether the advantages of cannabis exceed the harmful side effects.

Autism activists, on the other hand, are hopeful, albeit cautious. The study’s reviewer, the president of the International Society for Autism Research, lauded the researchers’ work but advised caution when contemplating marijuana as a treatment for autism, “given the revelation of considerable rates of undesired side effects.”

With additional treatment alternatives, parents and autistic people may make better, more educated decisions. Even the authors of the Neurology report concluded that cannabis is “not a miraculous cure” for autism, but rather “another tool in our toolbox.”

In 2022, will marijuana be used to treat autism?

There will be a paucity of rigorous, big, and placebo-controlled studies as long as the federal government refuses to remove its limitations on cannabis to allow greater research and medicinal applications. It’s doubtful that cannabis will be approved for use in treatments without the necessary studies to back it up.

Despite sensationalized media assertions that cannabis is the breakthrough therapy for autism treatment, the Global Pediatric Health journal reported in 2018 that there is more anecdotal evidence for the advantages of CBD than scientific research. It’s possible that the hype around marijuana’s usage for autism is overdone, and that the real findings of studies do not justify its widespread use. We just don’t know.

While efforts are being made to open up research (such as a CBD-autism clinical trial recruiting participants at the University of California, San Diego), it will likely take more time before there is genuine scientific confidence and consensus that marijuana will be a beneficial and legitimate addition to the autism treatment toolbox.

Talk to your doctor about evidence-based autism therapies until we learn more. Although ABA therapy is the cornerstone of autism treatment, additional treatments (such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and even physical therapy) may help you achieve your goals. For co-occurring disorders, medicines may be prescribed in certain circumstances.

Your treatment team will show you how to manage your autistic symptoms in the most effective manner possible.


The Current State of Evidence for Cannabis Use in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment. (2019). BMC Psychiatry is a journal that publishes research in the field of psychi

A current clinical trial is evaluating the effectiveness of CBD in the treatment of autism. (In July of 2020). UC San Diego is a university in San Diego, California.

The FDA has approved the first drug to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy that has an active ingredient derived from marijuana. (Updated June 2018). FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the United States.

Can Marijuana Aid in the Treatment of Autism Symptoms? A new study seeks to answer this question. (Updated September 2019) CNN.

Autism Spectrum Disorders and Resting State EEG Abnormalities (2013). The Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Affective Use of Antiepileptic Drugs in Autism Spectrum Disorder (September 2001). Pediatric Neurology is the study of children’s brains.

Anxiety Disorders and Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment (Updated October 2015). Neurotherapeutics.

Is There a Link Between Epilepsy and Autism? (March of this year). The Epilepsy Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with

Structures, Biological Activities, and Neuroprotective Mechanisms of Cannabidiol (CBD) and Its Analogues in Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s Disease. (In April of 2020). The European Journal of Medical Chemistry is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes research

Cannabidiol (CBD) at high doses alleviates pentylenetetrazole-induced epilepsy in rats by acting as an anticonvulsant. (June 15, 2015) The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine is a publication dedicated to clinical and experimental medicine.

Modulation of Intracellular Calcium and Adenosine-Mediated Signaling is the proposed multimodal mechanism of action of cannabidiol (CBD) in epilepsy. (April 2019). Neurology.

A Pragmatic Open-Label Clinical Trial on the Therapeutic Effects of Prolonged Cannabidiol Treatment on Psychological Symptoms and Cognitive Function in Regular Cannabis Users (2018). Research on cannabis and cannabinoids.

Parents Experimenting With Marijuana for Autism: The Pioneers (September 2016). Spectrum.

Why Do We Know So Little About Autism Spectrum Disorder? (2018). Frontiers in Neurology is a journal dedicated to research in the field of neurology.

How Effective and Safe Is Medical Cannabis for Mental Disorders Treatment? A Systematic Analysis (2019). European Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience Archives.

Analysis of the Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism in Real Life. (2019). Scientific Reports is a publication that publishes research findings.

Oral Cannabidiol Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms and Co-morbidities in Children. (2018). Pharmacology’s New Frontiers

The Role of Endocannabinoids in the Regulation of Social Behavior (July 2017). Neurosciences Trends.

A Retrospective Feasibility Study of Cannabidiol-Based Medical Cannabis in Children With Autism (P3.318). (April of this year). Neurology.

Can Medical Marijuana Help Autistic Children? (April 2019). WebMD.

Have We Seen This Movie Before About Autism Spectrum Disorder and Cannabidiol? (2018). Pediatric Health Around the World.

A Retrospective Feasibility Study of Cannabidiol-Rich Cannabis in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Behavioral Problems. (March of this year). The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of autism and developmental disorders.

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Medical Cannabis: Review & Clinical Experience. (July 2020). Seminars in Pediatric Neurology.

An Observational Study of 18 Participants Undergoing Compassionate Use Investigated the Effects of CBD-Enriched Cannabis Sativa Extract on Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms. (Updated on October 2019). Frontiers in Neurology is a journal dedicated to research in the field of neurology.

Cannabidiol (CBDEffect )’s on Low-Frequency Activity and Functional Connectivity in Adults With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). (As of June 2019). The Journal of Psychopharmacology is a publication dedicated to the study of psychopharmacology.

Have We Seen This Movie Before About Autism Spectrum Disorder and Cannabidiol? (Updated November 2018). Pediatric Health Around the World.

The first scientific conference on cannabis and autism is hosted by Autism Speaks (December 2018). Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about

A family tries medical marijuana for their son with autism after all other options have failed. (As of December 2018) NPR.

The Argument for Using Marijuana to Treat Autism (May 2017). Vice.

The “cbd for autism on today show” is a research study that will be conducted in 2020. The study will look at the effects of CBD oil on children with Autism.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is CBD a treatment for autism?

A: This is something that I am not qualified to answer, so I will be unable to provide a detailed answer. However, cannabis oil has shown some promise for improving sleep issues in children with autism spectrum disorders and possibly alleviating the symptoms of anxiety.

Does CBG help with autism?

A: I am not an expert on autism.

What is the coping strategy of autism?

A: The coping strategy of autism is to withdraw and not interact with the external world.

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