The Benefits of Medical Marijuana and CBD Oil for Autism

We recently released a special guide about the use of the use CBD oil for children with autism and you can read more here.

Children’s Hospital will study medical marijuana’s effect on children with autism

An upcoming study at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will be the first of its kind in the United States to examine the benefits of medical marijuana in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study is in partnership with an Australian biopharmaceutical company called Zelda Therapeutics, who will be funding the study.

Athena Zupp, the director of Children’s Hospital’s Center for Clinical Pharmacology, told that “the hospital will not provide any cannabis products to children. This is truly an observational study. We’re not giving them anything. We’re just gathering data to educate ourselves.” The researchers will be working with children who are already covered under Pennsylvania’s Safe Harbor Provision. (Wood, 2017) The study is expected to begin early this year.

Benefits of Medical Marijuana and Autism to Be Studied

Medications traditionally used to help children with ASD

In a study published in 2008 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, atypical antipsychotics are described as, “indispensable in the treatment of a variety of symptoms in autism.” The study examines the efficacy of haloperidol and risperidone for treating behavioral symptoms commonly associated with autism including aggression, anger, and self-injurious behaviors. It concludes that the medications can alleviate these behaviors when behavioral interventions are ineffective but warns that potential side effects must be considered and weighed.
The most common side effects listed include weight gain, hyperprolactinemia (elevated serum prolactin), sedation, adverse cognitive effects, and tardive dyskinesia (involuntary, repetitive body movements). (Posey, Stigler, Erickson, & McDougle, 2008) While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved these medications for use in children with autism, some parents are still wary of these potential side effects.

Can Medical Marijuana Treat Autism Symptoms?

Many parents of autistic children are advocating for the legalization of medical marijuana to help treat some of the symptoms of autism including reducing anxiety, self-injurious behaviors, sleep dysregulation, and trouble with social interactions.

Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA) is a parent advocacy group with chapters in seven U.S. states (Arizona, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa, and Illinois). MAMMA’s goal is to give all children with autism legal access to medical marijuana under the care of a physician. The group’s website provides testimonials from 10 families who claim marijuana has greatly helped their child’s symptoms. Several of these families testimonials consider themselves “medical refugees” moving across state lines so their children will be eligible for the use of medical marijuana for seizures and other qualifying conditions.

Other families submitted testimonials anonymously and say they will continue to use marijuana illegally until legislation is passed in their states or autism is considered a qualifying condition. Most of the testimonials praise marijuana for helping their children reduce self-injurious behaviors and regulate their moods and sleep, with some families claiming that the plant reduced their child’s seizures, a common co-occurring symptom of autism. The families affiliated with MAMMA and other similar groups say medical marijuana alleviates their child from the side effects of traditional pharmaceuticals sometimes prescribed for children with autism including antipsychotic medications.

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Can CBD oil help with aggression caused by autism?

We have a dedicated guide for parents looking for more information on CBD oil for autism

Since parents have started using CBD oil to help ease aggression in their children caused by autism, the anecdotal evidence has been overwhelmingly positive. Some parents report that their children who used to be unreachable during fits of rage are able to implement calming techniques; other parents report decreased instances of physical violence.
In 2010, Lester Grinspoon, MD urged doctors to take this anecdotal evidence seriously and conduct further medical research on the effects of CBD oil on aggression. Many researchers are focused on the question of what causes autism aggression rather on guiding research efforts towards looking for ways to manage the aggression that many children with autism and his/her families have to navigate daily. CBD oil for anger and aggression is a welcomed option for many families who have previously tried medications traditionally used to help children with autism deal with strong emotions. As more research is done on medical marijuana, CBD oil, and autism, scientists will have a better idea of how CBD interacts with the brain of an autistic child and why it is so effective.

International studies focus on children and medical marijuana and CBD oil

In January 2017, Dr. Aran, the director of the neuro-pediatric unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, spearheaded the inaugural clinical trial to determine medical marijuana’s effects on children with autism. The study followed 120 children and young adults with autism as they received CBD oil.

This compound contains low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is high in cannabinoids and is not psychoactive, therefore children receiving the oil did not feel “high.” Dr. Aran hopes to take the guesswork out of how medical marijuana helps children with autism so that they can be treated with more precision and lower risk of potential unknown effects with prolonged use. The results of this study are expected to be released in the coming months.

How to advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana for autism

Parents interested in advocating for the legalization of medical marijuana in their area or having autism listed as a qualifying condition can do so in a variety of ways. Contacting your local representatives via email, phone call, or setting up a meeting is an important step in letting your government know that it is an important issue for you. The more hospitals conduct studies on the impact of medical marijuana on children with autism, the more information will be available to parents and lawmakers.

Encouraging hospitals to begin their own studies and trials is crucial in gathering the information needed to learn more. Finally, joining a group like MAMMA could help you stay informed on new studies and advocacy opportunities.

CBD oil for autism — is it perfectly safe to administer to children?

Laws on CBD vary widely so always connect with your child’s doctor and confirm legality. It is also imperative to be on the lookout for fake CBD oil containing a synthetic compound which can make people very sick.


CBD oil for autism

Wood, S. (2017, December 11). Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to study medical marijuana and autism. Retrieved 2018, from

Posey, D. J., Stigler, K. A., Erickson, C. A., & McDougle, C. J. (2008, January 02).

Antipsychotics in the treatment of autism. Retrieved from

Risks and side effects. Retrieved from

Links to epilepsy and autism. Retrieved from

Autism Parenting Magazine tries to deliver honest, unbiased reviews, resources, and advice, but please note that due to the variety of capabilities of people on the spectrum, information cannot be guaranteed by the magazine or its writers. Medical content, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, and other material contained within is never intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read within.

Katherine G. Hobbs

Katherine G. Hobbs

Katherine G. Hobbs is a researcher and journalist for Autism Parenting Magazine dedicated to bringing awareness of resources to families affected by autism spectrum disorder. She lives in Florida where she teaches preschool and elementary-aged children of all abilities. Her passion for autism awareness began as a child in grade school with a dear friend. You can find her online at and Instagram.

  • I never realized that marijuana was used to help children with autism until I read this. I like that you mention how it can help control behaviors like anger and self-injury. I have a friend with a son who has autism that gets upset often, so I wonder if they have considered this as a medical alternative.

    • Avatar Elizabeth Hickey says:

      I am wanting to also try this with my son. I strongly believe it will help him and benefut his future.

    • Avatar Arla Gensel says:

      Criminal appeal lawyer seeks mercy for client sentenced to life without parole for marijuana

      • Avatar Edna says:

        Thanks for your comment, Arla. As we shared with our readers, we would suggest checking out your state/country’s laws before purchasing or using CDB oil. We also inform all our readers to purchase from a reputable seller who’s product is cleared for use in your area. Have a great day!

  • Avatar Elizabeth Hickey says:

    I am wanting to also try this with my son. I strongly believe it will help him and benefut his future.

  • Avatar Jumar Lalas says:

    Personally, I think the use of Marijuana is a varied discussion. I’ve lost a friend and a daughter on it, as they isolate. I used to live in a 55 and older Mobile Home court, and the people there who used it were often erratic or just didn’t take care of everyday issues. There is a danger just like medicating with any drug, of side effects, but what concerns me, is once again people want to treat symptoms vs. the cause. For example, Kris Kristofferson’s Alzheimer’s Disease, misdiagnosed, which was Lyme, and once treated for that, he comes out of the Alz. Lyme for instance mimics many diseases like MS, Chronic Fatigue, Parkinson’s, etc. It doesn’t help that one inept Govt. sponsored group wants to limit ‘treatment’ to 28 days of antibiotics that will not kill the spirochete and it’s 6 forms, and prosecute docs that treat patients more than that. I believe it is a form of Population Control.

    • Avatar ERIN says:

      Jumar Lalas
      For many of us with children who pound themselves in the head and cant explain why, we don’t have the luxury of waiting on the cause of ASD we HAVE to treat the symptoms. Anecdotal evidence from other parents is worth it and being backed by chop gives ME hope.

    • Avatar Kevin Lynch says:

      You are, at best, insane.

  • Avatar Marjorie Spaeth says:

    What about lower functioning Autism in adults with significant behavior issues. Is it affective for a PRN or to take daily. We will take any help we can get.

    • Avatar homay says:

      Yes. Try Prana’s P3 Tincture. it has a 1:1 CBD/THCA ratio and it has done wonders for us. about 20 to 30 mg a day should help with improving the symptoms.

    • Avatar Joan says:

      I am desperate for my daughter. I have read the research and am convinced it could help. And if not, what I lost. Like you Marjorie I have a daughter with severe behavior issues and she is very low functioning. we have tried every single medication known to the medical field to no avail or sustainable solution. If you don’t walk in our shoes, you don’t know the toll, stress and never ending struggle families encounter. I have been doing this for 37 years. It’s worth a try.

  • Avatar Sheryl says:

    I have a cousin with autism. I wanna suggest him this. Is there any side effects?

    • Avatar Edna says:

      Hello Sheryl, thanks for your comment.

      Medication affects people in all different ways so we would suggest your cousin to sit down with his/her doctor and discuss the possible side effects of medical marijuana. Hope your cousin gets the answers he/she needs.

  • Avatar Erwin says:

    How to sensibly buy LEGAL cbd oil that can help manage autism symptoms? Because I got a letter saying customs has confiscated my package two times already and I’m pissed.

    • Avatar Edna says:

      Hello Erwin,
      I’m so sorry to hear you’re having trouble purchasing your oil. If you live in the USA, I would suggest checking out your state’s laws. If CBD oil is legal, there is probably a place you can buy it in-person to avoid the customs headache. Your issues may also be with the seller of the oil. Be sure you are purchasing from a reputable seller who’s product is cleared for use in your area. Good luck!

  • Avatar Lisa Stone says:

    I would love to try this on my daughter my problem Is that I don’t know what to buy in a don’t know anything about doses…I just want to get her off the medication…asd..anxiety..adhd

    • Avatar Edna says:

      Thanks so much for your comment. We suggest you talk to your child’s pediatrician or family doctor about your concerns regarding the medication dosage. Hope your next appointment goes well and you get the answers you need.

  • Avatar Jennifer Smith says:

    Autistic patients will greatly benefit from cannabis!

  • Avatar Karen Page says:

    I pray that further studies using medical cannabis will result in positive autistic treatment. Nice post!

  • Avatar Tammie Montgomery says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing informatin. my cousin have autism. I think it can help him.

  • Avatar Taylor Bishop says:

    Thanks for the interesting article about medical marijuana. It’s interesting to think that CBD oil could help some children alleviate behavioral symptoms, like anxiety and aggression. I’m interested to learn if the amount of CBD oil that should be taken would depend on how severe the symptoms are.

    • Avatar Edna says:

      Dosage should be individually considered based on your child’s age, weight, and height. It is always best to check with your child’s care provider to ensure your child is taking a suitable dosage.
      – Katherine Hobbs

  • Avatar myphysicalwellbeing says:

    thanks for the useful information and posts

  • Avatar May Shane says:

    Alternative medicine are more accepted now a days due to it’s promising results unlike pharmaceutical medicine, alternative medicine don’t give negative effect such as kidney and liver problems when it comes to long term use. As for my alternative medicine usage, I use medical marijuana. Different strain has a variety of uses and effect depending on your needs.

  • Avatar Kevin Murphy says:

    Many of us could agree in the legalization of marijuana in our society this could really help many people who are suffering from this kind of illness, marijuana can neutralize the neurobehavioral of many children.

  • Avatar Athea Jo says:

    I agree that medical marijuana has a lot of health benefits. And I hope that as high technology is developing there will be more discoveries that medical marijuana can cure.

  • Avatar Cannabria CBD says:

    Learned some new stuff with very detailed information.

  • Avatar Cannabria CBD says:

    Thanks For Sharing Such type of Information!

  • Avatar Monique Perry says:

    Thank you for sharing and spreading awareness! Cannabis is really indeed magical. As studies progress, it unfolds a lot of possible uses and applications in science and medicine. I hope this could be the future treatment of a lot of diseases.

  • Avatar Evelyn says:

    I am actually being forced by Drs to give my son Quetiapine he has had such bad side effects I was giving hemp oil he was happier smiling but Drs more or less threaten me if I do not give him this other medication he shut down no longer wants to talk but hemp oil is so much better for him obviously al the big pharmaceutical companies do not want this it actually became Legal in Scotland so basically I dont think they can stop this if I feel this is best for him This is so good for Autism and anxiety for everything its amazing

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