Unlike cancer or HIV, Autism isn't a specific disease, but a spectrum of mental health disorders that, depending on who you ask, may include conditions as common as ADHD or as difficult to identify as Asperger's Syndrome. To date, much of the information about the use of medical marijuana to treat autism spectrum disorders is anecdotal. Parents of afflicted children say that using cannabis helps the symptoms - calming anxiety, easing tensed muscles, etc.
Earlier this year, however, the American biotech company Cannabis Science, Inc., which develops pharmaceutical cannabis products announced a partnership with an organization called UF4A - the Unconventional Foundation for Autism. The goal is for Cannabis Science to help the Foundation build on its success with the proprietary cannabinoid treatment formulae it's already using.
According to representatives of UF4A, eleven autistic children, so far, have had positive results from pharmaceutical cannabis treatments, but there is concern that such children may become addicted to marijuana as they grow older, or abuse it later in life. As such treatment is also very new it's too soon to determine any long-term effects, positive or negative.
In a press release announcing the partnership with Cannabis Science, Mieko Hester Perez, the founder and executive director of UF4A said, "We believe that this new partnership with Cannabis Science will give us additional push and resources required to advance our Autism research. To date, we have already partnered with the University of California Irvine Medical Center to oversee our cannabis-based Autism research. Included in this group of advisors is the Dean of Medicine at UCI, and child psychiatrist Dr. Rebecca Hedrick M.D. Dr. Melamede of Cannabis Science will be an outstanding addition to the Board of the Foundation. His extensive knowledge of cannabinoid science should prove invaluable in our mission."
The bottom line here is that the effects of medical marijuana on autism spectrum disorders are being studied, and some children with such conditions have shown improvement. Time will tell whether or not those improvements continue.