After Other Options Fail, A Family Tries Medical Marijuana For Son With Autism
"The research basis for a lot of the hopes for using medical marijuana for autism - it's really minimal," says David G. Amaral, a psychologist and research director of the M.I.N.D. Institute at University of California, Davis. (M.I.N.D. stands for Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders.) "I mean there's very meager clinical evidence for effectiveness."
Meager evidence because there have been no large clinical trials to determine whether marijuana or its compounds are effective — or safe — in treating children with autism.
"Unless there's a clinical trial done in the right way and showing the safety, No. 1, of the drug," Amaral says, "and then the benefit of it ... it may be that families are wasting their time — and maybe exposing their family members to a potentially dangerous situation."
That's not to say that marijuana doesn't hold promise for autism treatment. In fact, the first large-scale clinical trial in the U.S. to test the idea is just getting underway at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.