Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects one out of every 59 children in the US, with boys being diagnosed at about three times the rate of girls. With how common autism is, especially in children, people across the globe are searching for ways to slightly alleviate these symptoms and have better control over their everyday lives. Thus, people are getting curious about the relationship between medical marijuana and autism. Is there potential here? Does marijuana help autism? 

Research surrounding this relationship is still relatively new in the medical field, but the potential behind turning to cannabis for help with autism is incredibly promising. Today, we’re looking closer into the connection between medical marijuana and autism to help understand how (and if) this unique green plant can help. 

Medical marijuana and autism
Medical Marijuana for Autism

Does Marijuana Help Autism?

When we look at medical cannabis’s properties and how it functions in the body, it is hard to deny the potential benefits it may offer for those with ASD. 

As a neurodevelopmental disability, autism impairs various functions in the human body. Typically, those with ASD struggle with communication, social behaviors, and general behavior patterns. Along with this, people with autism are at a higher risk for epilepsy and other seizure disorders; doctors diagnose about 20 to 25% of autistic individuals with epilepsy at some point in their lives. 

When looking at these elements individually, medical marijuana does appear to help with autism. Because the human body contains cannabinoid receptors from head to toe (literally), the compounds in medical marijuana can target neurological and central nervous system functioning. This system of cannabinoid receptors and cell signalers is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and it’s something that we all have. 

The ECS is responsible for various biological systems, from appetite to stress and even motor functioning and movement control. When your ECS is functioning as it should, you have proper internal balance, helping you perform your best. However, studies show that those with autism often have severe imbalances in their endocannabinoid system. 

One of the cannabis plant’s leading roles in the human body is to get the ECS back on track. While doing this, the plant’s cannabinoids target any areas of discomfort, imbalance, or just poor functioning to help get the body acting as it should. Thus, if science doesn’t lead us astray (and it hasn’t yet!), that would mean that cannabis could be vital in getting the ECS balanced in those with ASD.

How Does Medical Marijuana Help?

But, how does medical marijuana help those with autism? 

If the cannabis plant can get the ECS back on track, those with ASD would likely see significant improvement in their daily lives. We’ll talk about the specific effects of marijuana on autism in a minute, but studies have linked medical cannabis and anandamide levels in those with ASD. 

Children with ASD tend to have deficient anandamide levels — this is a neuron directly responsible for helping with behavior and pleasure. Anandamide is often called the “bliss molecule” because of its uplifting, stimulating effects on the brain. However, when you don’t have high levels of the bliss molecule, feeling and functioning your best becomes incredibly difficult. That’s a big reason why children with autism struggle so much with their early behaviors. 

Medical marijuana can help children with autism (and adults) level out these anandamide levels, creating better internal balance. 

Cannabis treatment for autism can be incredibly beneficial for those with epilepsy, as well. A few years back, the FDA approved the very first medication that included CBD. This medication, called Epidiolex, is prescribed to those with severe epilepsy disorders, like ones often found in those with ASD. Doctors prescribe Epidiolex to children as young as one year old because of the efficacy the substance provides. 

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Effects of Marijuana on Autism

Keeping all of that in mind, it is clear that medical marijuana for autism is a valid consideration. But, even with all this scientific jargon, it can be tough to understand how this actually affects a person with ASD. So, what are the effects of marijuana on autism?

As we mentioned above, one of the biggest (and most impressive) effects that medical cannabis has on autism is the reduced rate and severity of seizures for those with epilepsy disorders. CBD, in particular, has proven to do wonders for epilepsy, being the only condition that the cannabis plant is legally allowed to treat under the FDA. 

For those with autism and seizure disorders, medical cannabis can help alleviate the severity of both disorders, allowing a bit of breathing room for consumers. Of course, it will not rid patients of their seizures completely, but it can significantly reduce the frequency and severity.

Others find that medical marijuana autism treatments are excellent for assisting with behavioral complications. It isn’t uncommon for children with autism to experience outbursts or random acts of aggression due to imbalances in the brain and incommunicable frustrations. Cannabis may be able to help combat these, as the plant’s soothing, gentle effects can help alleviate excess stress and anxiety, all while providing a boost of bliss. 

This is just the beginning of the potential effects that cannabis treatment for autism can provide. However, as we’ve mentioned, all of this information is still primarily in its infancy, and the community is still patiently waiting for even more concrete, long-term clinical trials.  

Medical marijuana for Autism
Cannabis Oil for Autism

Best Strains for Autism

If you want to discover how well cannabis works for you or someone you love, we’ve listed some of the best strains for autism out there. These medical marijuana strains help to boost focus, improve social behaviors, and reduce residual pains that you may not even realize are there. 

Charlotte’s Web

The Charlotte’s Web strain was made famous by (and entirely crafted for) a young Colorado girl named Charlotte Figi. Charlotte was just barely a toddler when she began showing signs of an intractable form of epilepsy. After years of medications and dead-ends, Figi’s family turned to a CO dispensary for help. Thus, they crafted a high-CBD, low-THC cannabis extract for the child and called it Charlotte’s Web. 

This strain ended up changing Charlotte’s life forever. She went from experiencing 300 grand-mal seizures a week to just a handful every month when consuming this strain. While we lost her incredible presence back in 2020, the Charlotte’s Web strain carries on her legacy. It continues to help those with severe epilepsy and ASD every single day.  

Blue Dream

A sativa-dominant strain, Blue Dream is a great option for those with ASD often experiencing excess pain and discomfort. This energizing strain can do wonders for the mood, stimulating creativity and providing waves of bliss, all while helping to reduce pain levels. However, this strain does have a high THC content. Because of this, it's ideal for adults who are okay with getting a little high, too.  

Northern Lights

For a bit more of a calming cannabis strain for autism, we suggest turning to Northern Lights. Northern Lights is a heavy indica strain that’s wonderful for calming anxiety, reducing nerve pain, and helping you feel more balanced. For those with autism, the Northern Lights strain can help level out outbursts and negative behaviors, replacing them with calmer, better responses instead. 

CBD Dosage for Autism

In terms of finding the proper CBD dosage for autism, every person will be different. With CBD, even though it isn’t psychoactive, you still have to be careful in avoiding more than your body is comfortable with. Because of this, we always suggest keeping the term “low and slow” in mind — both with CBD and cannabis as a whole. 

Elevate Holisics recommends starting with as low of a CBD dose as possible. Then, you can increase it once your body is used to the substance. Starting with a low dose allows you to see how your body reacts. It also helps you determine if it's something you actually enjoy. If you find that effects are only mildly present, that’s the biggest indication to up your subsequent dose.

For those with autism who are non-verbal, always start as low as possible with doses. Pay attention to reacts and results on a more physical level. Then, you can increase potential amounts as time goes on and as tolerance levels rise. Again, there is no “perfect” CBD dose for autism — it is different for everyone! Try starting with around 5 mg. and go from there. 

Can You Get a Medical Marijuana Card for Autism?

Now that we’ve piqued your interest regarding autism and cannabis, we bet you’re wondering, “Can you get a medical marijuana card for autism?” You sure can.

Qualifying conditions for MMJ vary from state to state, but 14 states in the US currently accept autism as a valid reason for a medical marijuana card. It simply depends on where you are! But, don’t worry: Elevate Holistics is not only here to help you find out if you qualify, but we’re here to help you get your medical marijuana card in the first place. 

Elevate Holistics is a telehealth medical marijuana company that dedicates ourselves to helping you get an MMJ card in your state. We operate 100% online and 100% hassle-free because we believe that getting medical marijuana should be a celebration — not a frustration. Whether you’re interested in getting a medical marijuana card for autism or a different qualifying condition, Elevate Holistics will be here for you every step of the way — even if you aren't sure you qualify.

Start your MMJ journey today with Elevate Holistics!