Medical marijuana for autism

by | Apr 17, 2010 | Autism Spectrum Disorders, TREATMENTS | 8 comments

Cannabutter, or marijuana butter

Cannabutter, or marijuana butter

Some parents are claiming that the use of small amounts of medical marijuana baked into brownies, cookies, and other foods have produced behavioral results in their autistic kids that are nothing short of miraculous.

According to the Autism Research Institute’s website, “some of the symptoms medical marijuana has ameliorated [in autistic children] include anxiety–even severe anxiety–aggression, panic disorder, generalized rage, tantrums, property destruction and self-injurious behavior.”

They also give this advice:

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

First question, is this legal in your state?

If medical marijuana is legal, do you need a doctor’s permission or “recommendation”?

A prescription for [medical marijuana] 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 medical marijuana, 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 (gluten free/casein free). Any recipe may be adapted using 2/3 oil for the amount of solid fat in the recipe.

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

There are many testimonials online from mothers using medical marijuana for their autistic children. Here is one account: Why I Give My 9-Year-Old Pot.

And in the video below, a mother claims that medical marijuana cooked in small brownies has saved her autistic son’s life. Before eating the cannabis-tainted treats, he was exhibiting self-injurious behaviors, was not eating, and had bones sticking out of his chest from being malnourished. A doctor prescribed medical marijuana and hours after eating his first brownie, her son asked for food he hadn’t asked for before. They were able to reduce his 13 pharmaceutical medications down to 3 prescription drugs. He gained over 30 pounds. He still does not have speech but they are hoping he will just continue to improve.

While it’s not seen as a cure of autism, medical marijuana is being used as an herbal tool to help manage devastating symptoms, help children gain weight, and receive behavioral therapy. The long-term side effects of marijuana seem to be much less hazardous than those of certain commonly prescribed drugs used on children with autism. In any case, parents should do their research before making a decision to use medical marijuana so they have all the facts, and they should make sure it is legal in their state.


  1. desirrenotrealeither

    Helpful links on youtube: Find videos titled: “Behaviorally Fragile Autistics” and “Looking Back at Severe Autism”. This will take you to channels that show a case of severe autism with self injury that has baffled experts over the years. Interesting. Wonder if medical marijuana would help?

  2. desirrenotrealeither

    Please note that self injurious behavior among autistic populations who are non verbal is rooted in multiple antecedents that fluctuate daily and are rooted in autistic disorder. Primarily the inability to communicate and cognitive impairments in autistic population. This is very complex. However, there are similarities among self injurious person in general. For instance, the frustration of being held captive to what is often a behavior that has evolved into a compuslive behavior. A behavior that is triggered by a plethora of antecedents, due to autistic person’s inability to respond to conventional methods used in non autistic populations to thwart or otherwise reduce the tendencies to self abuse. Marijuana advocates don’t seem to understand the complexities involved in dealing with autistic who present with chronic intraccable SIB. If they want to be taken seriously, they need to do their research. They need to explain WHY marijuana would HELP autistic who self abuse. What does marijuana DO to brain that would help? Does it elevate dopamine? Or other neurotransmitters that would reduce tendency to self abuse? What are adverse reactions? What about autistics with seizure issues? Or who have complex issues? You can’t just take one or two examples of people who CLAIM dope helped their autistic kid without examining WHY or HOW this worked?

  3. patricia

    At Dr. Rea’s clinic the Environmental Health Center – Dallas, I saw phenomenal progress in an autistic child being treated for allergies with homeopathy. Not only did the child become more calm and relaxed but he became more coordinated and communicative.

    I am really sorry to see marijuana becoming so popular and promoted as an herbal cure for anything. Marijuana smoke damages T cell production the same way pesticide does, and it is more toxic than tobacco smoke. The THC released into the air has secondhand effects especially on those chemically sensitive. As country living is popular with people who use marijuana on a regular basis and the secondhand effects can be far-reaching, the recent promotion and legalization of marijuana in some states makes finding a safe place to live when you are chemically sensitive and recovering just that much more difficult.

    Fifty years ago cigarette smoking was romanticized, all the glamorous Hollywood types were pictured smoking cigarettes, both in their movie roles and off-screen. No one really took the health warnings about cigarette smoke seriously, and more damage has been done to people by cigarette smoke in the last fifty years than we can really fathom. Deaths from lung cancer are only the tip of the iceberg, countless lives have been altered, subtracted from, made painful or unpleasant because people preferred a popular myth that was convenient.

    Like cigarette smoking in its heyday, Marajuana smoking is romanticized and given an aura of mystique. The movies portray it as something done by sensitive individualistic thinkers. For instance, when Goldie Hawn’s character in the movie Private Benjamin is asked what a person does after all the traumatic bad luck she suffered, she smiles and answers, “Join the Army.” while holding in a lung full of pot smoke from a joint she is sharing with her teammates. (the complete answer portrayed by the movie being: Grow up and become independent – by joining the army – by getting in good physical shape – by smoking marijuana)

    The romance associated with marijuana smoking comes from the the ’60’s and ’70’s when a lot of people used marijuana, among other drugs, to try to free their thinking from the false ideological constraints that were part of our culture so they might experience their real selves.

    But rather than being part of a counter-culture movement toward positive social change, it is mainly used to produce a euphoric state in an environment too toxic for people to feel naturally well in . By covering up the symptoms of lack of health, people are derailed from doing anything effective socially or politically to address what is today a crisis situation in the environment.

    A large part of the problem is that there is no information in mainstream media about the negative health effects of marijuana to either users or those in contact with the secondary smoke and users still tend to associate it with a “natural” lifestyle.

    In reality, marijuana smoke is more toxic than tobacco. There are more than 400 known chemicals in marijuana. A single joint contains four times as much cancer-causing tar as a filtered cigarette, and it is much more irritating to the mouth, throat, trachea, bronchii, and lungs than cigarette smoke.

    Marijuana smoke affects nerve cells in the brain and also decreases oxygen to the brain, which can cause loss of memory and coordination. Studies have shown the decrease in oxygen to the brain takes a month to reverse itself (this is also true of the irritating effects to the mouth, throat and lungs).

    Marijuana smoke can cause confusion and disorientation in sensitive individuals even as secondhand smoke.

    Marijuana smoke affects heart rate, increasing the beats per minute by as much as double the normal amount.

    Studies further suggest that marijuana is a general “immunosuppressant” whose degenerative influence extends beyond the respiratory system. Regular smoking has been shown to materially affect the overall ability of the smoker’s body to defend itself against infection by weakening various natural immune mechanisms, including macrophages (a.k.a. “killer cells”) and the all-important T-cells.

    This is not surprising given that marijuana’s ability to produce a euphoric state rests on its ability to overcome the body’s detoxification system enabling it to cross the blood-brain barrier.

    The movement to legalize marijuana is sponsored by a small group attempting to dictate changes in laws surrounding the use, as well as the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. Organizations such as NORML (National Organization for Reformed Marijuana Laws); The
    Lindesmith Center; and, the Drug Policy Group are pushing the movement state to state. There are three key players involved in the funding of this movement: University of Phoenix founder John Sperling, New York philanthropist George Soros, and Ohio insurance executive Peter Lewis have funded efforts to revise drug laws in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Arizona. The initiatives won in all five states. Sperling, Soros, and Lewis plan to focus their nationwide campaign on middle America. According to a drug policy adviser to Soros, the three philanthropists contributed more than $7 million toward changing the nation’s drug policies during the 1997-1998 election cycle. They each spent $1.2 million on the California initiative alone. I think it would be a good question to ask ourselves why Soros, Sperling and Lewis would be interested in funding the legalization of marijuana.

    George Soros and His Progressive War on America

    Marijuana in the air makes the environment more toxic for everyone and makes it more difficult for everyone to think clearly.

  4. earthwalker

    Hi Patricia, thanks for your comment. If you read the article, you’ll see that a small amount of marijuana baked into food is what is being recommended by some parents; not smoking.

  5. patricia

    I understand that what is being recommended for autistic children is marijuana baked into brownies. Although I didn’t mention this specifically in my response, I thought people familiar with chemical sensitivity could generalize and understand that baking marijuana releases THC into the air also. And people in proximity will be exposed to this without their consent. A lot of people are impoverished by being ill with chemical sensitivity and so live in very close proximity to their neighbors — apartment buildings, etc.

    The whole concept of legalizing a drug that has to be heated to be effective for its proposed use is flawed as it ignores the secondhand aspects of it and the rights of others, and it ignores the rights of the chemically sensitive in particular.

    Regarding its use for autistic children, there is a wealth of information that autism is probably due to immune system damage from vaccines and also from agricultural pesticides as Dr. Doris Rapp pointed out during the interview on Women Speak Out, “… if you look in California for example where they have lots of chemicals you will find that the incidence of autism is up 2000 per cent. If you look at other parts of the country it might be up 200 to 400 percent.” []

    So these babies with immune system damage will suffer further damage to their immune system from the marijuana.

    A friend of mine who was also at Dr. Rea’s clinic in Dallas relates,

    “I understand wanting to find just anything to help. I also spoke to parents of autistic children and the child’s behavior improved dramatically with food allergy discoveries and antigens, an even to the point they began speaking. One woman said with tears in her eyes, ‘All he did was scream…and now he can visit with people’ as the boy played with my husband, as my husband drew pictures for the little boy in the testing room.

    Another teenager with autism was helped by Dr Rea. After being on allergy-free diet, he too began to speak and become ‘more functional,’ interacting with his siblings. However, after staying at a new day care facility, he became unable to walk and stopped talking. It was a trailer-type structure eventually found to have terrible mold problems from roof leaks. He became ill from mycotoxcins (just one of the problems). I watched him start to ‘come out of it’ and respond to his parents with nods and smiles while undergoing P/N testing, getting the right dose for mold allergy. Before that, he starred silently without blinking. His parents now have a website dedicated to helping other parents become more aware and proactive. By the time we left for home, he began speaking in short sentences. Amazing.”

    I am researching the url for the website.

    She also points out that wheat and sugar in brownies are high-allergy-reaction-list foods and most mixes will contain preservatives.

  6. Cannabis for Autism

    Hi, maybe you should check out our page too.

    Patricia, I think you will find that a lot of us are disobeying your advice and successfully treating our own autism and aspergers with cannabis.

    Thank you x

  7. yvette

    MMJ is by far a superior drug, however it’s critical to point out there are certain strains that may be contraindicated with autism. For example, if your child has autism and epilepsy research shows that some strains exacerbate seizures, so to expect some guy or gal in a dispensary to give you in depth info. on what types are good is a bit naive. As always, working with doctors is important, though, sadly conventional doctors seem opposed to MMJ, while they have no problem prescribing dangerous anti-psychotics like Mellaril, thorazine, haldol and zyprexa. In fact, research clearly shows anti-psychotics are “largely ineffective in treating autism.” That said, that leaves us caring and desperate parents in a bit of a pickle, doesn’t it? While we know we have a duty to protect our children, we are limited in what is available to us to protect and improve their health. There is NO doubt MMJ has been effective and safe in treating many cases of autism that have not responded to conventional therapies. The government has a duty to ensure that all parents trying to save their autistic children’s lives, should not ever be hindered or thwarted in protecting their lives by trying MMJ. The safest strains for autism appear to Hybirds.

  8. Mike

    It’s called being free to choose. Outside of preventing sale to children, the government should not be telling people what to put in there bodies. The drug war has been a failure that has done nothing to curtail usage. The fact is social trends are the underlying factor for determining the usage of any substance, and if anything prohibition drives up usage because it becomes the rebellious “rock star” thing to do. Prohibition of alcohol resulted in higher prices, increased violent crime across the board, and corruption. There were more speak easys in NYC than bars prior to prohibition. Total volume of alcoholic beverages went down, but sales of more concentrated liquor went up. This is how proponents of prohibition say usage went down, it didn’t!! The same is true for marijuana.

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