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Can Marijuana treat Autism?


Autism is a disease that has gotten a lot of press lately.  Some believe it is naturally occurring, while others blame vaccines for its origins.  Whatever its origin, it is one of those disorders that can be particularly trying on a family.  It predominantly affects children and the symptoms and severity often progress as a child enters puberty, meaning it gets tougher to deal with as time goes on.  Its symptoms include a wide range of mental, neurological and behavior disorders, with experts often disagreeing on what constitutes true autism, and other similar afflictions.  As it is so complex, the treatments for it are also wide-ranging.  Some doctors trust behavioral therapies, while others prefer a pharmaceutical approach, and many families wind up mixing and matching a combination of treatments to find out which is most effective.  For parents it can be incredibly aggravating and heart-wrenching to see occasional progress slip away as their children’s minds and bodies react to treatments and then stop responding.  Many reach the point where they are willing to try anything, and it is only then that many have chosen to try medicating with marijuana.

Investigations into any official links between autism and marijuana research prove to be difficult.  This is because there is no official work being done on the topic.  Because of the federal laws blocking marijuana, it is impossible to get funding for a set of studies.  Much of the evidence for the relief that marijuana provides is anecdotal and reported on a case-by-case basis from families gone public with their stories.  One of the more famous cases is from Mieko Hester-Perez and her son Joey.  At age ten he weighed 46 lbs and was severely malnourished.  Many autistic children are “picky eaters” and often will not feed themselves or offer resistance to caretakers trying to nourish them.  At her wits’ end, she decided to try medicating Joey with marijuana-infused brownies. She claims that within hours there was a noticeable difference.  He began eating and requesting foods and it altered his behavior too.  Previously Joey had tended toward self-destructive behavior and aggression toward others.  The mellow feeling of being “high” had calmed him down. Also, it reduced his wandering.  Wandering episodes are of huge concern for any parent; now imagine the child in question has no way of communicating to people who find him.

Other “success stories” come from Marie Myung-Ok Lee, a Brown University professor, and Debbie Hosseini of California. Both women have children diagnosed with Autism who have seen little or no effect from prescribed pharmaceuticals.  As is often the case with modern medications, there are numerous negative side effects as well as developed tolerance.  Even Marinol, the THC-derived pharmaceutical drug only consists of THC and may only include trace amounts of other medically useful cannabinoids.  Louis Spurgeon of  Kansas has a pervasive developmental disorder and was helped by using marijuana.  It seems to help most with ensuring nutritional intake and calming down aggressive and violent behaviors (sounds familiar).  But for Louis Spurgeon and Kevin Hosseini it has also helped with social behavior and verbalization.  According to his mother, Louis had been on several different medications but even as a teenager his scholastic skills were stunted.  In high school though, he joined with the “wrong crowd” and started smoking pot.  Though she protested, she noticed how it affected his mind and behavior in a positive way. It helped his sociability, calmed his anxiety and aggression and even promoted his verbal skills.  After he began smoking, Louis and his mother were having actual conversations!  For once the “wrong crowd” got someone onto the right path.

Marijuana may not be the answer for all autistic patients.  It is a wide-ranging disorder that effects people in many different ways, just like marijuana.  What these case studies highlight is the need for more research in a regimented manner.  For the longest time the US government only funded studies that show the negatives to marijuana and none of the benefits.  Their priorities are skewed; in fact many studies that previously showed benefits, had their funding cutoff and the results were buried.  This is science that must be done for the sake of science and humanity.  Often it is the surprise discoveries that lead to true breakthroughs.  Politicians should know better than to try and steer a study to say what they want.  In the meantime, Marijuana is something that parents may want to consider.  One of the pros of marijuana is that its effects are short term. If it proves ineffective or even negative for a particular patient, discontinuing its use ought to return that patient to his previous state.

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21 Responses to “Can Marijuana treat Autism?”

  1. avatar
    Daytimetoker March 3, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    austism is being discovered at an increasing rate. families are going to want to know all their treatment options

    • avatar
      Born2Blaze March 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      Especially since there have been no effective ways to go about treating the condition.

    • avatar
      Daytimetoker March 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      how do they get funds unblocked? can they maybe do research or continue it in those states? seems counterproductive. I mean if its legal in the state for medical purposes how can they not be allowed to study for its medical benefits? Add another thing that doesn’t make sense into the mix!

  2. avatar
    Sir SmokesAlot March 3, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    its sad that medical relief is always supressseed because taboo.

    • avatar
      DeadHead63 March 5, 2012 at 11:05 am #

      That seems to be the case with most cures that are not produced by a company in a lab. Very sad to say the least.

  3. avatar
    ByTheBeach March 5, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    I think it is great that marijuana is able to help these children when nothing else has been able to. While it may be a touchy subject, the point still stands that the condition of these children is improving with the use of marijuana.

    • avatar
      Couch Lock Cujo March 5, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      I could not agree more with this statement. If it helps, then use it in my opinion.

  4. avatar
    CompassionateCare March 5, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Current reports are that there is a tremendous spike in Autism and Autism spectrum related issues due to vaccinations of our children. The pharma companies obviously want to keep this under wraps. The only worse news for them would be if studies can prove that medical marijuana is an option to treatment drugs…

  5. avatar
    hennie loc March 5, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    I aint sayin that its cool to give kids pot, but if it works and nothing else do, then talk to the doc about it. I know in my hood if folks be givin their kids anything funky, the po po comes and takes the kids away!

  6. avatar
    ManicSurfer March 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Im not sure how I feel about this, I guess using it in edible form is the best way to go about it, but it just seems off. I’m going to put some more thought into it and some more reading before I make my final opinion tho.

  7. avatar
    bluedreaming March 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Seeing my little cousin grow up with autism, and rarely finding anything that would help his symptoms AT ALL i wish his mother would try giving him an edible. But she is however, very christian/conservative and thinks marijuana could NOT possibly hep her son. When all the other options run out, I hope she will give it a chance.

  8. avatar
    WeJuana March 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    These parents should be given medals, not criticized. That had to be a very hard decision to make, and it seems to have helped their children. Good for them.

  9. avatar
    LegalGrower909 March 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    This is most certainly a difficult topic to talk about, but just because it is difficult does not mean the debate does not have to happen. When it comes to children I think that it should be administered in edible form only, and with full documentation from the parents and physician.

    • avatar
      itsagreenlife March 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

      I agree. For some reason the image of little 7 year old Timmy puffing on a blunt doesn’t seem right. But giving him medicated Fruit Loops sounds awesome :D

  10. avatar
    Puffaluffagus March 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    When I was growing up, most people didn’t even know about autism till Rain Man came out. I wonder why there are so many cases now that it’s a part of our vocabulary. Did they broaden the definition of the disease or are we just poisoning our children?

  11. avatar
    MAFA1 March 6, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    We are hearing more and more of this disease. You even see it allot in TV shows.

  12. avatar
    CaGuy209 March 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    If Marijuana can help with this disease. Parents have the right to know.

  13. avatar
    oneHitwonder March 7, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    I can’t believe these types of things with marijuana, I really started for fun, and I noticed things it helped me with over the years, but after reading something like that it really puts you in awe and makes you wonder what else is in this magical plant

  14. avatar
    MCA0744 March 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    The best thing about using medical marijuana as a trial, is its natural and the worst side effect is munchies and a nap. its worth trying, even if it works for 5% of them, its worth trying.

  15. avatar
    Milka Lover March 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Brings relief not only to the patient but to their families as well.


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