Have you seen the 2021 televised “CNN SPECIAL REPORT: WEED 6: MARIJUANA AND AUTISM”? This hour-long program features CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta (a brain surgeon in Atlanta) visiting with and interviewing autism families that have been helped by marijuana, and medical researchers who are involved in a variety of clinical trial studies of the effects of marijuana on persons with autism. The findings thus far are stunningly encouraging.
Why does marijuana relate to autism grandparents? It may be because some of us came of age when marijuana first became publicly trendy among young people. It may be because we’re older and have more knowledge of marijuana and its history of both demonization and glorification. We may be a reasoned source of opinion and guidance regarding whether our grandchildren with autism should be exposed to marijuana.
The CNN program featured specific children with autism who exhibited aggression, self-injurious behaviors, repetitive behaviors, and a lack of social communication and interaction. Their parents had – mostly illegally – experimented with exposing their children to marijuana. In each case there were very positive results. There was significant decrease in irritability symptoms, meltdowns, aggression, self-injurious behaviors, and repetitive behaviors. And there was improvement in the ability to speak and communicate.
BUT . . . but. . . .
Most of us grandparents have lived long enough to know that marijuana, although now legal in many states, is unregulated. It’s impossible to know much about its specific variety, its concentration of CBD and THC, whether it has been exposed to dangerous herbicides, and whether it has experienced sanitized handling and packaging.
The parents featured on the CNN program had no real guidelines regarding marijuana doses, frequencies, etc. They often relied on advice posted on the Internet by other parents.
The program pointed out that in most cases of severe autism, the commonly prescribed medicines are those used for psychotic patients and other similar cases – all with significant side effects. The program noted that marijuana is mostly absent of bad side effects.
The program advised that, because of so many unknowns, marijuana use is not yet advisable for persons with autism. But there is hope that there will one day be FDA-approved marijuana treatments for core symptoms of autism.
As autism grandparents, we can be knowledgeable about these findings regarding marijuana and can sources of appropriate guidance regarding our grandchildren.