A current clinical trial aims to investigate whether a compound found in cannabis may provide relief for children with severe symptoms of autism. This study includes 30 children between the ages of eight to 12, each undergoing behavioral testing, MRI scans, and electroencephalograms. Initially, half of the participants will receive cannabidiol (CBD), and the other half a placebo. Subsequently, the groups will switch, allowing researchers to observe any changes in symptom severity and compare the effects.
While the use of medical marijuana for various conditions, including autism and acute pain, has expanded, there is still significant uncertainty surrounding its efficacy and safety, particularly in pediatric populations. House Bill 18-1263, enacted on April 5, 2018, incorporated autism spectrum disorders into the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana use, offering an alternative option to counteract autism-related complications. Despite this, the concrete benefits of such treatments remain inconclusive.
Additionally, concerns regarding the cognitive impacts of long-term cannabis use, especially when initiated during adolescence, persist. Studies suggest a decline in IQ and cognitive functions such as memory, decision-making, and attention among chronic users, raising questions about the potential risks associated with cannabis consumption.
With the involvement of the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation, the trial is conducted at the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego School of Medicine. The research seeks to provide a data-driven perspective on the viability of CBD as a treatment modality for severe autism symptoms.
Moreover, this research comes at a critical time when there is a distinct lack of data on substance use, particularly alcohol and marijuana, by adolescents on the autism spectrum. As definitions and legal status vary—with marijuana identified by its higher THC content compared to hemp—there is a pressing need for clarity on the implications of their use, especially in vulnerable populations.
This trial’s outcomes could potentially inform future medical guidelines and patient care strategies, albeit with a cautious approach considering the mixed evidence regarding the long-term cognitive effects of cannabis use.
Study to Explore Whether Cannabis Compound Eases Severe Symptoms of Autism
Cannabis Treatment of Autism in Children: A Literature Review
Current Clinical Trial Assessing Potential of CBD in Treatment of Autism
Most Alternative Therapies for Treating Autism Show at Best
Medical Marijuana Use for Autism and Acute Pain
The Critical Lack of Data on Alcohol and Marijuana Use by Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum
Cannabis and the Brain | Harvard Medical School
Cognitive Effects in Midlife of Long-Term Cannabis Use
The Effects of Marijuana on Your Memory – Harvard Health
The Behavioral Effects of Marijuana Use – Cornell University