Autism and Medical Marijuana

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Autism and Medical Marijuana

Some families have found marijuana (mmj) to be nothing short of miraculous. Some of the symptoms MMJ has ameliorated include anxiety--even severe anxiety--aggression, panic disorder, generalized rage, tantrums, property destruction and self-injurious behavior.

One mother's comments:

"I know it's not the end all answer but it's been the best answer for the longest time for us in regards to ALL the other medications. I cannot tell you how many months we would go on a medication wondering if it was doing anything, anything at all. Here we can see the difference in 30-60 minutes guaranteed."


"My son (who is almost nine years of age) has been on medications to address his severe autistic behaviors including aggression and throwing fits over trivial issues in the environment. He has been difficult to instruct due to these behaviors. None of the medications has ever made a difference, except for making his behaviors worse. He has been through the whole range starting at three and a half with ritalin and dexedrine, and going through prozac, paxil, clonidine, naltrexone, adderall and risperdal. Finally, we gave up on medications and decided to manage his behaviors through behavioral techniques. We had mixed results.

A few months ago we tried the prescription drug Marinol and noticed a drop in the severe episodes, no fits and little to no aggression towards his teacher and family members on a daily basis. A few weeks ago we started him on cannabis and stopped the Marinol. He has been in a much better mood and is much easier to keep on task in the classroom now. There has not been a major fit since he started the Marinol, and the cannabis seems to work just as well with his behaviors and he is now much more easier for his therapists to manage during instruction.

It is not a cure, but just a tool to make things go smoother and prevent disruptions in his learning. He still has days when he gets angry and moody, but we can adjust the dose to help him through those days. It is such a mild medication and there are no long term side effects that can damage the body's organs. I feel much more comfortable administering cannabis) than something like risperdal.

Autism is an unpredictable disorder and even though major behaviors are constants, autistic people have different degrees of their behaviors from day to day. We can tell when he might need an extra dose to get him through a rough day, and due to the fact that there is no toxic overdose, we do not have to be overly concerned with safety issues."

--From a less stressed out mom

Some relevant stories:
The Sam Project
MMJ for an 8 Year Old [Related link]
Marihuana and Behavior Disorder of Uncertain Origin

So, you want to consider giving medical marijuana to your autistic son/daughter?

First question, is this legal in your state?
If mmj is legal, do you need a doctor's permission or "recommendation"?
A prescription for mmj is illegal, according to federal law.
It may be difficult to get your MD to write a letter or even sign a form for you stating that your child may benefit from medical marijuana. Even if your MD is willing to help you, he or she may want you to try a few pharmaceuticals first, although it is most likely that you already have given these the old college try, and have seen only limited improvement, if any at all. If you can't find a doctor willing to help, local AIDS awareness and advocacy groups may be able to recommend one. That this is for pediatric use is problematic, especially for a child with a disability. If your child has any co-morbid conditions or a seizure disorder, a physician's help is critical.

If you still want to try MMJ, the next step is finding a supply--and a supplier. Just because you used marijuana back in college doesn't guarantee that you will be able to scare up a dealer for your child's medical needs. Buying marijuana on the black market is expensive, dangerous and nerve-wracking. Any medicine you buy is also apt to be tainted. If it smells suspiciously like Raid, chances are excellent that you have scored a pricey version of this trusty bug killer.. If you are fortunate enough to live in a state with compassion clubs, then your problem may be solved. Some states allow limited cultivation.

Next issue, how will this medicine be delivered to your child? Probably an autistic child will not be smoking. There are several viable methods of delivery, tinctures, elixirs, baked goods, cannabutter and cannaoil). Cannaoil may be particularly useful if your child is gf/cf. Any recipe may be adapted using 2/3 oil for the amount of solid fat in the recipe. Happy Caps is another solution if your child is able to swallow a pill.

Medical information:
GW Pharmaceuticals UK
well known Jamaican study

Useful sites:
State-by-State Medical Marijuana Laws
The American Alliance for Medical Cannabis
Marihuana The Forbidden Medicine, Lester Grinspoon M.D.
The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Jack Herer
Medical Marijuana Research
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
An Ethnographic Study

If your state allows cultivation:
Marijuana Botany, Rob Clarke
Marijuana Growers Handbook, Ed Rosenthal

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