Cannabis as a Natural Treatment for Autism

Cannabis as a Natural Treatment for Autism


– Nate started taking
medication for autism when he was around five years old. As Nate was getting into high school, the aggression levels just really started spiraling out of control. He randomly started running
into other classrooms, punching people for nothing. It took four adult men and
handcuffs to bring him down to the ground, cuff him and restrain him. At that time, he was taking
18 pills every single day. And it wasn’t even helping. I started researching the
medical marijuana states. We were able to come to California. I remembered seeing the
big neon cannabis leaf in the window, I’m like, “Well
that’s gotta be where we have to go.” (laughs) (upbeat music) – [Interviewer] Why don’t you
tell me a little bit about your family, you have three kids. – Okay, my name is Jenni Mai. I have three sons on the autism spectrum. Each child is of course so
different, like any other child, and as far as them being on
the spectrum, Nathan is what is considered to be at
the very severe end. And rather than trying to
find the right medication, they just gave him more
and more and more of it, and that was really the
only solution they had. I did not want him being
chemically restrained in a bed, being (crying) taken care of by strangers. I’m sorry. I had come across this little video clip of a young boy who was just
repeatedly punching himself in the head. – [Reporter] 11 year old Alex
Ekels is severely autistic. His self-destructive
behavior brought on by– – And it caught my attention because it was something that Nate had done. His parents were talking
about giving him some kind of an oil. I was confused, because it
sounded like it was some kind of a marijuana derivative,
and I was actually shocked and maybe even a little bit disgusted. – [Reporter] And after a
few months of treatment, the Ekels say they saw
a dramatic improvement. – Within just a few
minutes of this boy taking the oil orally, he was
smiling, he was calm, and he wasn’t hurting himself
anymore, and I’m like, “Wait, what just happened there?” (laughs) I watched it a few more times, and I was completely
shocked and desperate. – At that point, Jenni
and her family just moved from Wisconsin to Missouri. Two states where getting pot
legally for really any reason is super difficult, but particularly medical
cannabis to treat autism. Currently only 12 states include autism as a qualifying condition. Five other states and
the District of Colombia are considered autism friendly, meaning doctors can
recommend medical cannabis for debilitating conditions. So that leaves 33 states
where you can’t access medical cannabis to treat autism at all. – I was raised in the Nancy
Reagan “Just say no” era. – Say no to drugs, and say yes to life. – I would have never in
my life considered this to be a medicine, but I
basically told my husband, “We have to try that.” – Like most illicit drugs, the scientific and medical research of
marijuana has been challenging. But the tide appears to be turning. The first large scale
clinical trials underway in Montefiore medical
center in New York City. And it may be the key to
unlocking access to treatment for children with autism, nationwide. Dr. Eric Hollander is leading that study. – I’ve been involved in research
developing new therapies and treatments, in
autism spectrum disorders for about 30 years, and there’s a big need to develop treatments for the
poorer symptoms of autism. – This study focuses on a new
compound called Cannabidivarin or CBDV, it’s an extract from
the cannabis plants similar to CBD, it doesn’t include THC, the psychoactive drug that gets you high, and what Jenni uses to treat Nate, but it’s the first step
to studying cannabis to treat autism. – This particular
cannabinoid has some effects on some of the underlying mechanisms that we think are essential to autism. The problem behaviors,
the destructive behaviors, and also in some of the
compulsive behaviors, or repetitive behaviors or
perseverative behaviors, so it gets at a key mechanism
that we think is important. – There is reason to be optimistic. This new CBDV based drug is similar to one that’s already been approved by the FDA to treat a severe form of
epilepsy that shares some of the same symptoms that
Dr. Hollander is studying. This new research could
help cement what has largely been anecdotal support of
using cannabis to treat autism. But while that research is
ongoing, parents like Jenni are moving to states that
have more lax marijuana laws. For Jenni and her family, that
meant packing up everything and moving all the way across the country. That decision may sound
extreme, but for Jenni and Nate, it’s been worth it. Their lives have been transformed since first visiting a dispensary. – We got home, and he
took a hit immediately. We got this one. – [Nate] Okay. – And within, not even five minutes, it was just like a light switch. He was happy, and just kind
of looking around like, he had never seen the world
in that way and he was smiling and looking at me, and
I just knew right away, ’cause nothing acted that
quickly or that positively ever. – Jenni has learned a lot since moving her family out to California. There she joined forces
with fellow mom, Ronda, to start the non-profit
Whole Plant Access For Autism. Now it’s a team of moms
dedicating their lives to helping other families
navigate the challenges that come with getting cannabis
for their autistic kids. – I feel like a lot of people
that come to our booth, someone in their lives has
been touched by autism, and they don’t know that
this is an option for them. Other times we get people that you know, come to us after the event, they email us or they find us on social
media and they want to learn. And that’s kind of what we’re
about, we’re about educating. – We decided to take a
drive out to Joshua Tree. I had him vape and take an edible right before we left the house. He saw that I saw taking
pictures and most of the other pictures that I’ve
ever taken of him in his life, it was kind of a vacant stare,
he wouldn’t really look, he wouldn’t really smile, and
he ran over in front of me and sat down. He sat there and he posed for a picture, like everybody else would
in a situation like that. (sniffs) And I just, I’m like, “That’s it. That’s basically his birth picture.” You shouldn’t have to go
through the whole gamut of medications and side effects
and long-term consequences of some of those side effects
in order to get to it. Just look at cannabis as another tool in your tool belt to try. – Thanks for watching. For more Dope Science content,
check out our website, and subscribe to Freethink for
more great videos every week. If you want to learn more about what
Jenni and Ronda are doing with their non-profit, you
can go to their website which is wpa4a.org.

20 Replies to “Cannabis as a Natural Treatment for Autism”

  1. What an amazing difference in this lady's son. It makes me sick that alcohol is readily available to ruin so many peoples lives even the ones who is not doing the drinking of it yet you can't legally get cannabis in most places that could help with so many medical conditions for so many people .

  2. I’d love to hear about studies on medicinal mushrooms (specifically how it can be used to treat autism and other brain disorders)

  3. Thank you for advocating for Nate & All the others on the spectrum…….along with the families that care for them ❤?
    We love you Nate ?

  4. gawd… after the first one, should stop sleeping with your cousin and get your genetics checked. why subject these kids to such existence.

  5. I have aspergers syndrome so this is pretty interesting to me, thankfully my autism isn't this severe, the government should do more to help people like this.

  6. Although I do not smoke marijuana, I believe it pales in comparison to the devastation that legal pharmaceutical drugs create.

  7. Oh that poor boy who kept hitting his face. Drug companies won't fund this because there is no patent application for a weed so there is no money to line the pockets of the companies, I mean the research.

  8. I like that it helps the severe side. I have Aspergers and I was a daily smoker (like a bowl) for five years when I first retired. It screwed up my heart, raised my blood pressure, exacerbated my coronary artery disease, the tar from the smoke is totally bad for you and all my old friends ditched me and I hung out with potheads. The GOOD benefits were almost non-existent. I ditched it and became an exercise junkie–THAT works–at least an hour a day of sweaty, hard exercise.(and eating super healthy).

  9. Rather let me add something scienfic citations about THC4-(II) medical usement, because normally distraction of small mtDNA gene reproductions is not meaning full distrupt of ASD gene and RN4 peptide for minimal parts of mitochromes above the organella and encephale.

  10. Back in the day people got all the cannabinoids from the meat, milk, butter, wild birds, chicken. When hemp became illegal in 1938 that is when our bodies had problems regulating all of our other systems, because we removed the cannabinoids from our endocannabinoid systems.
    Now every one is getting phytocannabinoids (from plants)because that is the only place we can get them.
    I am hoping soon we can legally go back to feeding animals hemp.

  11. There are others giving this oil to good grid their kids into a nice long day and a peaceful night, thousands.this grid occupied a kids mind like a novel , a life they now find novel.

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