This week, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill that would allow medical marijuana use to be expanded to include autism as a qualifying medical condition. Under a different governor last year, a similar bill was not signed off on. Then-Governor John Hickenlooper cited inadequate research as the reason for not doing approving the bill. However, the problem when it comes to marijuana in the first place is that challenge in getting research even done on it, and so the argument that not enough has been done becomes circular. It’s a frustrating issue to say the least for those looking for relief and with lots of anecdotal evidence that suggests medical marijuana could be effective.
Nonetheless, the bill was approved and some families were there to see the bill get signed off by Polis. The move may be controversial, but at a minimum, it gives more options for families struggling with autistic children. It could also help lead to more progress on the issue in the U.S., especially if there is more anecdotal evidence to support that medical marijuana can help. The problem is that until adequate research is done, it’s going to be hard to make much progress and to get the medical community on board. Much of the legislation around marijuana has centered around keeping it away from children in the first place.
Study Shows Progress in Treating Autistic Children
Medical marijuana treatment is a polarizing issue because while some families may rave about its benefits, medical professionals still urge a lot of caution on the issue. However, there has been a recent study done in Israel on CBD and autism which did show the drug having a positive impact on kids. The study looked at 60 children and found several improvements:
- 61% of patients had improvements in behavioural outbreaks
- 47% improved communication issues
- 39% had less anxiety
- 33% had less stress
- 33% had less disruptive behaviour
Despite progress being observed, the study still noted a need for more information
Although many with autism are being treated today with medical cannabis, there is a significant lack of knowledge regarding the safety profile and the specific symptoms that are most likely to improve under cannabis treatment. Therefore, the aim of this study was to characterize the patient population receiving medical cannabis treatment for autism and to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this therapy.
Safety Still a Big Concern
The biggest obstacle for medical marijuana adoption besides research is safety and the side effects that might come from using it. Without having more complete research and information on medical marijuana use available, it’s going to remain an obstacle for practitioners to prescribe it, especially when it comes to treating children.
Another issue is that there needs to be a better system in place to track cannabis from seed-to-sale. If a patient orders a product that has the wrong amount of CBD, it could be ineffective. And in the worst case, high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could have adverse impacts on a patient and end up doing more harm than good. While leading medical marijuana companies like Aurora Cannabis Inc (TSX:ACB)(NYSE:ACB) may provide quality cannabis products and help ensure the safety of their products, with an increasing amount of competitors in the industry it’s going to be difficult to ensure patients get what they ask for.