Cannabis May Have Therapeutic Benefit for Autism, Should Have Fewer Federal Restrictions

April 23, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Heath Organization (WHO) are now reviewing whether to remove cannabis from the Schedule I Controlled Substance List. Since cannabis may have potential as a therapeutic for people with autism, SafeMinds has submitted comments to the FDA in support of reassigning cannabis to a less restricted category.

For decades the FDA and WHO have viewed cannabis as a highly dangerous drug of abuse with no medical value, in the same category as heroin. WHO defines Schedule I substances as those “whose liability to abuse constitutes an especially serious risk to public health and which have very limited, if any, therapeutic usefulness.” The FDA defines Schedule I substances as having “no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”

Yet a growing number of caregivers of an individual with an autism spectrum disorder are trying cannabis and finding beneficial improvements. These include reduced aggression and self-injury and better sleep, cognition and GI function. Even the core social deficits of autism are reported to improve in some cases.

Because of these reports and a growing body of scientific evidence on cannabis and autism, SafeMinds has submitted comments to the FDA for consideration during its review of cannabis. This review is taking place at the request of WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD). The ECDD is meeting on June 4-8, 2018 and will consider the Schedule I status of cannabis.

Comments are closed for this round of FDA review. But if you have an opinion on cannabis’s potential as a therapeutic, consider submitting your own comments to the FDA when they will be asking for more public comments in mid 2018. Background information on the current review are on the Federal Register website.

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