In the excerpt below, a mother of a son with autism describes her success in treating her son's violent outbursts with marijuana, which has allowed him to gain the self control necessary for social learning.
I remember when my son with a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome used to have violent outbursts. It was terrible. There was no treatment beyond the risperdal proposed by doctors who knew nothing about autism and nothing about that particular drug, which has the demonstrated capacity to turn kids into corpulent zombies. See my posts linked below about the ugly politics of risperdal.
I rejected risperdal and other proposed anti-psychotics for my son and we coped with the outbursts until they disappeared but with plenty of scars that might have been avoided if there had been a safer treatment method.
All drugs have potential risks but marijuana's risks are trivial in comparison to the risks posed by risperdal and other powerful anti-psychotics and anti-anxiety drugs that are routinely given to children on the autism spectrum, as noted in this article:
(I made my son cannabis cookies. They changed his life. The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/i-made-my-son-cannabis-cookies-they-changed-his-life/2017/01/06/699b1d20-d1ef-11e6-a783-cd3fa950f2fd_story.html?utm_term=.7231b8598d63&wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1
Indeed, cannabis is one of the few substances on earth that can’t kill you. It was classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, suggesting the potential for abuse, a concern about safety and the absence of an accepted medical use. But subsequent research has shown that cannabis is not physically addictive, as many illicit drugs are, and that it could make life better for people with a range of ailments, such as Tourette’s, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, glaucoma, spasticity, Huntington’s disease, chronic pain and intractable epilepsy. And the safety concerns have turned out to be unfounded. “Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects,” a Drug Enforcement Administration administrative judge wrote in 1988. “But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.” So even parents who might not have my penchant for methodical experimentation would have little to fear in using it to treat children like mine.
I believe marijuana's benefits and risks need to be more fully explored but in the meantime doctors and policy makers should acknowledge that decades of research have established fewer risks than those posed by commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs and recreational substances, such as alcohol.
I strongly believe that marijuana legalization will have much greater benefits than liabilities, including the health benefits that accrue to individuals who substitute marijuana for more dangerous drugs, including alcohol.
Most importantly, marijuana legalization and de-stigmatization promises to help many people who suffer neurological disorders, ranging from autism to migraines, with fewer adverse side effects.