What is medical marijuana?
Medical marijuana generally refers to any product derived from cannabis plants — including dried flowers, resins and oils — that has been recommended by a doctor. It may be consumed directly or infused into an array of foods, lozenges and candies. These products have become popular among autistic people and their families for treating a broad swath of conditions, including insomnia, epilepsy and chronic pain.
Complicating the picture, CBD alone may not be sufficient for cannabis’ therapeutic effects. A 20-to-1 ratio of CBD to THC relieves aggressive outbursts in autistic children, a 2018 study suggests 8 . This same ratio of compounds significantly improved quality of life for some children and teenagers with autism in a 2019 study 9 . Specifically, researchers observed significantly fewer seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and outbursts. Most participants reported improvements, and about 25 percent of participants experienced side effects such as restlessness.
In many European countries, as well as in Australia, Canada, Israel and Jamaica, medical cannabis is legal, with specific laws varying from country to country.
But despite how tempting CBD oil may be as an autism treatment, Silverman says it’s “not an intervention with an evidence base.” It’s also not an FDA-approved method for treating autism.
Parents across the country have hopped on these findings and starting giving CBD oil to their children. Many claim CDB oil helps regulate emotions, promote better sleep, and control autism symptoms.
Here are a few more issues surrounding the treatment of autism with CBD oil:
CBD oil products aren’t lab tested in every state, according to the Child Mind Institute, so they could potentially contain THC or other unknown items.
Some parents may also wonder about the legal issues regarding CBD oil. Some states allow CBD oil as long as it's derived from hemp, but not from marijuana. Other states outlaw CBD altogether, and some permit it for certain uses. Research your own state's legislation for more details.