How Medical Cannabis Can Benefit Children with Autism

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Approximately 2 million people in the US suffer from autism, which is a collection of disorders that affect brain development. It leads to  social interaction issues, communication difficulties, learning problems, high sensory sensitivity, inability to keep a conversation flowing, repetitive and even injurious behaviors. It is believed that medical cannabis can help children with autism.

Autism is not a specific disease, like muscular dystrophy or Crohn’s. Rather, it is a group of conditions you can refer to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

The causes of ASD are unknown, but as per the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the environment and genetics are both key contributors to the disorder. Autistic people generally have abnormal neurotransmitter levels and brain irregularities, which suggest the disorder is the result of a disruption in normal development of the brain due to the presence of defective genes that control the communication of brain cells.

Medical Marijuana and Its Effects on Autism

Research suggests there is a potential connection between cannabinoid receptors and autism. This is evident in cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2), inside the endocannabinoid system 2, 5, 7, 9. There is sufficient evidence that shows CB2 receptors support the theory that the brain’s inability to send clear cues causes autism. This in turn increases the possibility that using cannabinoids in marijuana can reinstate communication to facilitate proper cell operation and communication. Studies also support cannabinoids efficiency in treating autism, especially in children.

One study concludes an autistic child show significant improvement in lethargy, hyperactivity, stereotypy, irritability and inapt speech after receiving THC for about six months. Furthermore, mice showing behavior similar to humans’ autistic behavior enjoyed decline in depression and succeeded in staying focused on running on the spinning wheel after they were given cannabinoids. A study showed boosting cannabinoids, such as the ones present in cannabis, in the brain helps correct behavioral problems that stem from Fragile X Syndrome, the most widespread genetic cause of autism.

How Medical Cannabis Can Benefit Children with Autism

Increasingly, parents who have children experiencing severe autism have few options for treating ASD symptoms. Keeping this in mind, many are now turning to medical cannabis. People are aware of the anecdotal success reports, as there are promising results present. Although clinical research remains absent, several studies indicate that medical cannabis can:

  • Help in autism management thanks to the presence of certain components, like the CB2 receptor. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23585028
  • Improve various autism symptoms, such as aggression, panic, anxiety, tantrums, generalized rage, self-harm, and property destruction. This is as per findings of the Autism Research Institute.
  • Help with behavioral issues due to the presence of certain chemicals.

Since scientists rely on evidence, few researchers or doctors are willing to prescribe marijuana. They don’t prescribe it for children, as they don’t feel comfortable. However, the therapeutic qualities of cannabis are undeniable, considering the plethora of anecdotal studies available today.

West Virginia Medical Marijuana Legalization Is The Tipping Point

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The legalization of medical marijuana in the state of West Virginia last week is a tipping point for the cannabis movement nationwide, an Ohio newspaper argued Thursday.

The Marietta Times of Marietta, Ohio, which is literally a stone’s throw from the West Virginia border, says now it’s time for the federal government to take a position on medical marijuana.

The Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants a crack down, while the Secretary of Homeland security supports medical marijuana and says recreational marijuana is not a priority. Meanwhile, the FDA has not taken an official position about medical marijuana.

The Times says with so many states legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, the policy vagueness of the current administration is unacceptable.

The bill to legalize medical marijuana in West Virginia was signed last week by Governor Jim Justice after passing through the state’s House of Delegates 76 – 24 and sweeping through the state Senate 28 – 6.

As Reason Magazine notes, the new marijuana policy makes West Virginia the 29th state to legalize medical marijuana, and the sixth state to approve cannabis for patients in the last year.

Saving Lives with Medical Marijuana

In August 2016, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy published a study with findings about West Virginia marijuana policy that make last week’s reform great news for the state’s deadly opioid addiction epidemic:

“Marijuana may potentially have a positive impact on West Virginia’s opioid-based painkiller and heroin epidemic by offering another, less-addictive alternative to individuals who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions.”

Cannabis is not only less addictive than opioid-based prescription painkillers and street narcotics. While consumers of marijuana may develop a “tolerance” (they may need more to achieve the same effect over time), the plant and its products do not cause “dependence” (minor to severe withdrawal symptoms after ceasing use).

That’s why in 2010 former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders (who supports marijuana legalization) had this to say: “Marijuana is not addictive, not physically addictive anyway.”

Not only is cannabis less addictive than opiates, it’s less dangerous. Far less dangerous. West Virginia leads the nation in the rate of fatal drug overdoses. Last year 818 people in the state died of a drug overdose, 86% of them due to opiates.

That was a West Virginian dying every 12 hours around the clock for the entire year. Last year not a single American died of an overdose of marijuana, because it’s impossible to overdose on marijuana.

The new laws in West Virginia will help make hurting people more comfortable and it will save lives. And 29 states into legalizing the plant, it certainly looks like a tipping point.