Cannabis and Autism: Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism

Analysis of Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis Treatment on Autism

Research article published in Science Reports, Jan. 17, 2019

This article reports on the outcomes from use of medical cannabis in treating young people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The subjects included every patient with a diagnosis of autism who received their treatment through Tikun Olam, “the largest national provider of medical cannabis” in Israel, during the period 2015-2017.

They found that cannabis treatment appeared to be safe, effective, and with limited side effects. They noted that both THC and CBD were useful in different ways for treating ASD. While the results were promising, the authors call for more research, stating that “double blind placebo-controlled trials are crucial for a better understanding of the cannabis effect on ASD patients.”

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Limitations of study of effects of cannabis on Autism

There were limitations in this study. For example, the researchers relied on the observations of parents and not the patients themselves. They also noted the possibility of what’s called self-selection bias: “Children of parents seeking cannabis therapy might not constitute a representative sample of the patient with the specific disease.”

In addition, Tikun Olam not only supported the study, two of the authors are employees of Tikun Olam and a third has a paid seat on its scientific advisory board. That doesn’t mean their findings are any less significant, but it is something to be aware of.

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Cite: Bar-Lev Schleider L, Mechoulam R, Saban N, Meiri G, Novack V. Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):200. Published 2019 Jan 17. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-37570-y