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New Study on Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Autism

Michael Komorn


A large private donation will fund another study on using medical marijuana for autism. But this is not the first, nor is it the last clinical study on marijuana for autism. Marijuana aka Cannabis regulates the body and mind into a more normative state. Cannabis is also a very strong anti-inflammatory, and thus relieves a lot of pain. Many people with autism also suffer from pain, but are unable to communicate their pain. The autistic person in pain unable to communicate then manifests into aggression, irritability, self-injurious behavior, screaming and other outbursts.
With the help of parents and physicians, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Association has submitted autism to be a qualifying condition again with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review Panel. There will be a meeting on May 4th 2018 at 9am in Lansing, MI where the panel will vote on autism along with 21 other new proposed conditions. Please if you can show up to the meeting and give your support to the board members so they support adding these conditions to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program. While we at the MMMA of course support more research on cannabis for all conditions, it is cruel to prohibit this safe non-toxic medicine from people who suffer and may already be using cannabis illegally to treat autism.
If you want to leave a public comment, the deadline is 5/3/2018 at 5pm to email comments to LARA-BMMR-Legal@michigan.gov
Autism is a qualifying medical marijuana condition in California, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. 

Starting in July, autism spectrum disorders and obstructive sleep apnea will qualify as conditions eligible to be treated in Minnesota with medical cannabis, the state Health Department said Thursday.

The two conditions were chosen as part of the department's regular review of requests to expand the use of medical cannabis. Petitioners sought authority for 10 conditions this year, including anxiety disorders, dementia, liver disease, Parkinson's disease, apnea and autism.

State health officials backed cannabis for autism after their review found a "lack of effective drug treatments, the potentially severe side effects of current drug treatments and anecdotal evidence of Minnesota children with autism already receiving benefits from medical cannabis taken for other qualifying conditions," the Health Department said in a statement.


• May 16: Report finds Medical marijuana aiding most MN patients
• Full coverage: Medical marijuana in Minnesota


"Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence. However, there is increasing evidence for potential benefits of medical cannabis for those with severe autism and obstructive sleep apnea," Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in the statement.

Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by "sustained social impairments in communication and interactions, and repetitive behaviors, interests or activities," the department noted.

With obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder involving repeated episodes of reduced airflow caused by a complete or partial collapse of the upper airway during sleep, the agency said its research "identified some scientific evidence of effectiveness of cannabis treatments. Continuous positive airway pressure is a very effective treatment already in use, but people with the condition often struggle to stick with that therapy."

Under current state rules, patients certified to have autism or obstructive sleep apnea will be newly eligible to enroll in the program on July 1 and receive medical cannabis from the state's two medical cannabis manufacturers beginning Aug. 1. As with the program's other qualifying conditions, patients will need advance certification from a Minnesota health care provider.


The main "treatment" for autism is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA is mostly about teaching behaviors and correcting unwanted behaviors as you would train a dog or animal. ABA does not treat the person itself, nor does it diagnose, treat or check for pain or discomfort. ABA is akin to a nun using capital punishment using whips and canes to "fix problem children".


The Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation has given $4.7 million, the largest private gift ever for medical marijuana research in the United States, to fund research at the Center for Medical Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of California, San Diego, on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) compounds to treat autism. 






This clinical trial will examine if and how cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical found in the cannabis plant, provides therapeutic benefit to children with severe autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The trial, scheduled to launch in approximately one year, is funded by a grant from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation in partnership with and based on recommendations from the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation.
ASD affects an estimated one in 68 children in the United States, primarily boys. CBD is a major chemical compound found in cannabis. It does not produce the “highness” caused by THC but interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system; a network that regulates diverse physiological and cognitive processes.
The goals of the study are to determine 1) if CBD is safe and tolerable and whether it helps with the symptoms of ASD; 2) whether and how CBD alters neurotransmitters and/or improves brain connectivity; and 3) whether biomarkers of neuro-inflammation, also associated with ASD, are altered by CBD.
The clinical trial will consist of 30 children, ages eight to 12 years, with a confirmed diagnosis of moderate to severe autism. They must be free of other neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, and in general good health.
In the first phase of the study, half the children will receive an oral dose of CBD and half placebo. In the second phase, the groups will be switched and the half who originally received CBD will receive placebo, while the initial placebo group will receive CBD. Investigators will be blinded to which children are receiving which treatment until after all of the testing is completed at the end of the study.



Although the above clinical trial is still in Phase 1 and has not started yet, there are other clinical trials which have advanced to phase 2.

An interesting clinical trial below is part of the US Department of Defense budget.


Cannabidivarin (CBDV) vs. Placebo in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Brief Summary:
This trial aims to study the efficacy and safety of cannabidivarin (CBDV) in children with ASD.
United States Department of Defense




This clinical trial in Israel seems to be more fleshed out and has more information.


Cannabinoids for Behavioral Problems in Children With ASD (CBA)
Brief Summary:
This study aims to assess the safety, tolerability and efficacy of cannabinoids mix [cannabidiol (CBD), ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a 20:1 ratio] for behavioral problems in children and youth with ASD.
Detailed Description:
Disruptive behaviors are very common in children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Behavioral problems increase social impairment in children with ASD, make interventions more difficult and place considerable strain on families and caregivers. Current treatment is based on behavioral interventions combined with atypical antipsychotics which often have low tolerability and questionable efficacy.
Cannabis exerts profound effects on human social behavior. Research using animal models of ASD indicate a possible dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system, and stress that it may be a novel target for pharmacological interventions. Anecdotal evidence suggest efficacy of various phytocannabinoids in resistant behavioral problems. However controlled human studies are lacking.
Objective: To assess the safety, tolerability and efficacy of cannabinoids mix [cannabidiol (CBD), ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a 20:1 ratio] for behavioral problems in children and youth with ASD.
Setting: A double blind randomized placebo-controlled trial with crossover. Methods: One hundred and fifty participants ages 5-21 years, with established ASD diagnosis and moderate to severe refractory behavioral problems will be treated with placebo and cannabinoids mix in a randomized cross-over trial. Each intervention period will be 12 weeks with additional 4 weeks for gradual dose decrease and wash-out. Baseline evaluations will include: Autism diagnostic observation schedule (ADOS-2), Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ), Vineland II (interview based), Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS-2, observation based). The primary outcome measure is Home Situations Questionnaire-Autism Spectrum Disorder (HSQ-ASD). Secondary outcome measures will include: Clinical Global Impression (CGI, improvement and efficacy index items, clinician-rated), Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS, parent and teacher rated) and Autism Parenting Stress Index (APSI). Adverse events will be taped every 4 weeks.




By: WBRE Staff

Updated: Apr 05, 2018 01:25 PM EDT

CARBON COUNTY, PA (WBRE)  A father from Carbon County, Pennsylvania is making history by treating his daughter with medical marijuana.

Five-year-old Cora Haloskie from Albrightsville and her twin brother TJ have autism.

Their father Jeremy said Cora's symptoms were more severe, and she used to have 10 or 15 meltdowns in one day.

That's why, after doing a lot of research, he decided to try a less traditional treatment.

Jeremy is one of the first certified caregivers in Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program.

He told Eyewitness News the prescription not only reduced her repetitive behavior and the meltdowns, but it also helped Cora find her voice.

After just eight doses, she had her first conversation with her dad.  It was a disagreement over a cookie, but for Jeremy, it was a blessing.

"I laugh because she gave me a little bit of sass with it," said Jeremy.  "But I walked away and thought wow, that was the first time we actually talked back and forth! I was so grateful!"

Jeremy said it's important for parents to make their own choices with doctors about their child's healthcare.

He plans to find out if medical marijuana could help his son TJ since he's also on the spectrum.




Tampa doctor uses medical marijuana to treat patients with autism
By: Gayle Guyardo 
Updated: May 02, 2018 08:28 AM EDT

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Florida doctors are making great strides in treating patients with medical marijuana, but that hasn't been easy.

Even though the law passed allowing such treatment was overwhelmingly supported by Florida voters, loopholes and red tape have kept patients from receiving treatment.

So a Florida doctor hung up his white coat and made several trips to Tallahassee to help educate law makers, and change is happening now.

"We've put close to a 1,000 patients into the state registry," said Dr. David Berger.

From seizures to PTSD, and even helping those on the Autism spectrum, Berger is now able to help patients in need.

"We are getting fantastic feedback. Quite honestly, I don't have any other single treatment that I've done in my entire medical practice in the last 20 years that I have seen gotten more feedback that it's helping and that it's being tolerated," said Berger.

Many of Dr. Bergers patients are treated without THC, the ingredient that makes people feel high.

When asked why he would take time away from his busy practice to educate law makers and other doctors he said, "I became a physician because I want to help people. For me, there was never another thought besides doing this."

While there are a few wrinkles that need to be hashed out, Dr. Berger is pleased with treatment option currently available.

Today, he continues to work alongside other health care professionals to continue educating the public and the medical world about the benefits of medical cannabis. 





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