Medical Marijuana for Autism

Is medical marijuana a safe treatment option for children with autism?

Mieko says her son, Joey, was diagnosed with autism when he was 16 months old. By age 5, Joey's behavior was destructive and aggressive, and despite trying 13 different medications, Joey's condition was going from bad to worse.

"Because of his autism, Joey was very particular about the foods he would eat and was literally starving to death in front of our eyes," recalls Dr. Rebecca Hedrick, Joey's psychiatrist at UC Irvine.

Desperate for a solution to save her son, Meiko turned to medical marijuana, a controversial remedy not often associated with children. Under a doctor's care, she began treating Joey with medical marijuana.

The chemical in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can stimulate appetite. The use of medical marijuana as a treatment option for children is considered controversial due to the inherent nature of the drug and minimal research available.

However, the results of Joey's treatment are positive. Not only has Joey doubled his weight, he is responsive and socially engaged. "Joey has had an awakening," his mother reports.

While Joey's progress is encouraging, medical marijuana as a treatment for children with autism warrants further research.

• Learn more about the unconventional treatment for autism.