Many parents have seen firsthand the calming, clarifying effect that cannabidiol (CBD) has on their autistic children. Yet most mainstream medical professionals remain skeptical about the effectiveness and safety of using medical cannabis to treat autism. Even politicians are divided: Earlier this month Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature that would have added autism as a condition that qualifies for medical cannabis.
What does the science say? Like many conditions treated with medical marijuana, the personal experience and anecdotal evidence currently runs far ahead of the peer-reviewed scientific research.
Autism is often accompanied by epilepsy, leading some to suspect that CBD could allay both conditions.
It doesn’t help that headlines around the issue tend to reek of reefer madness (“Desperate Parents Of Autistic Children Trying Cannabis Despite Lack Of Studies”) or sensational cures (“Marijuana may be a miracle treatment for children with autism,” “Why I Give My 9-Year-Old Pot”).
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are lifelong neurodevelopmental conditions that involve differences in language, behavior, and social interaction. It’s worth acknowledging that autism can be a highly contentious issue. The very definition of ASD/autism can spark debate among parents and experts. An emerging neurodiversity movement, for instance, has coalesced around the idea that conditions such as autism, ASD, and ADHD aren’t pathologies to be treated but differences to be respected. Autism has long been defined as a cognitive deficit. For those in the neurodiversity movement, it’s a cognitive difference.
In April, the federal Centers for Disease Control increased its autism prevalence estimate among 8-year olds, to 1 in 59 children nationwide. (Graph courtesy of Autism Speaks) Parents Searching for Relief
Brandy Williams’ experience is typical of the parents who use medical cannabis as part of their child’s treatment. Williams is the parent of an 8-year-old