This post is part of the series Examining the Use of Medical Marijuana for ASD Treatment.
Given the apparent disregulation of activity in and between various neuronal networks in the autistic brain it is easy to see the appeal of marijuana to artificially stimulate the endocannabinoid system. But it is unclear what happens when you try to artificially stimulate the brain’s natural breaking system. One must proceed with the same caution one would employ when evaluating the use of other pharmaceuticals commonly prescribed to treat some of the symptoms and behaviors common in ASD.
It is important for parents to be aware of marijuana intoxication syndrome. In typically functioning individuals symptoms can range from giddiness to depression, introspection, and a sense of time moving slowly. How an autistic individual may react will depend on the baseline function of their endocannabinoid system.
Endocannabinoid system functionality is complex. We don’t have a reliable way to measure it. In fact we are still learning how this system works. Since we as yet have no way to measure endocannabinoid functionality parents will have to keep meticulous notes on their child’s behavior before, during, and after administering the preferred Cannabis product. A few of the many areas to monitor are:
· motor function (walking, running, hand-eye coordination)
· stability of mood
· responses to stressful or new environments
· blood pressure
· sleep-wake cycle
Keep in mind that you may see improvement or deterioration in these and other areas with the administration of cannabinoids. Also keep in mind that your evaluation of functionality in these areas will be somewhat subjective. Consider having one or more independent observers, who are unaware of when or if your child has been administered a preparation of cannabinoids, monitor these areas as well.
Further consideration should be given to the following factors before making a decision about using medical ma. There has been little scientific research into the use of Cannabis products for the treatment of ASD. It also remains unclear what, if any, side effects may manifest in children with ASD given Cannabis products for any length of time. While the manufacturers of drugs for medical use are regulated and required by law to provide information about composition and efficacy of their products the manufacturers of Cannabis products are not. Furthermore, while drug companies are required to track and disclose any possible side effects of the products no such requirements currently exist for the manufacturers of Cannabis products. It remains unclear if manufacturers of Cannabis products will be subject to regulation similar to that of other drug companies. Currently New York State does not have a legal manufacturing base for Cannabis products. It remains to be seen whether or not one will be established.
Next up, NYS Medical Marijuana Law Summary.