Can Medical Marijuana Treat Autism?

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc. 

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder, also known as ASD, refers to a complex range of neurodevelopmental disorders associated with varying degrees of issues with social interaction, issues with verbal and physical communication, and restricted and repetitive behavioral patterns. Some of these disorders include autism (or classical ASD), Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. Treatments for ASD focus on skill-oriented training interventions that teach social and language skills, and they may be accompanied by medications for anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Now, studies suggest marijuana may effectively improve behavior and communication abilities by repairing brain function to send clearer signals.

Researchers may have found a link between autism and CB2 receptors. In one study, cell mutations in the brain that were associated with autism blocked the actions of molecules that acted on CB2 receptors. Similarly, two studies found both mice with autistic-like behavioral issues and human subjects possessed upregulated CB2 receptors. These results suggest autism may result from a disruption in the brain that prevents it from sending clear signals. Therefore, cannabinoids might interact with cannabinoid receptors to restore communication and allow for proper cell function and communication. As evidence, one autistic child was given THC for six months and saw improvements in hyperactivity, lethargy, irritability, stereotypy, and inappropriate speech. Mice who also displayed autistic behaviors similar to those of humans were less depressed and able to focus after receiving cannabinoids. Lastly, one study found boosting cannabinoids in the brain corrects behavioral issues associated with fragile x syndrome, which is the most common known genetic cause of autism. 

This information has been brought to you by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.