December 11, 2014

British drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals is testing a new cannabis-based drug that is already showing promise in patients suffering from epilepsy. CEO Justin Gover believes the drug, Epidiolex, may also be beneficial to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Epidiolex has been tested on children with severe epilepsy in the United States under an “expanded access” program which allows patients with untreatable conditions to try experimental drugs. The study has expanded into clinical trials in the United States and Europe, which are scheduled to be completed by mid-2016. Gover hopes to launch the drug in 2017.

Analysts believe Epidiolex may also be beneficial to patients with autism, since the two conditions often overlap. Gover admits that more research is needed to determine whether or not the drug will be effective for patients with autism, but said that he sees, “an important role for GW in researching the use of cannabinoids within autism-like disorders.”

Medical marijuana in the United States continues to face hurdles, in spite of increasing evidence of its effectiveness in treating various medical conditions. Autism Daily Newscast recently published a story describing the difficulty researchers face in obtaining the marijuana strains necessary to complete their studies. As public support for medical marijuana continues to grow, there is still resistance from those who believe that marijuana is a dangerous drug that should not be made available.

An independent documentary by the makers of The Union: The Business Behind Getting High takes an in-depth look at the American “War on Drugs.” According to their website,

“The Culture High is the riveting story that tears into the very fibre of modern day marijuana prohibition to reveal the truth behind the arguments and motives governing both those who support and who oppose existing pot laws.”

The film features a vast array of individuals, from popular celebrities to former undercover agents. It also shares Jayden’s story.

Jayden had his first seizure at 4 months of age. His condition worsened to the point where he was having over 500 seizures per day, including grand mals sometimes lasting over an hour at a time. By the time he was 4 years-old, he was taking 22 pills daily. After one day on the cannabis-based CBD oil, Jayden was seizure-free for the first time in years. He was able to go swimming, and to start eating solid food for the first time. After one month on the oil, his family began the arduous process of weaning Jayden off the medications. The withdrawal process was difficult, and Jayden’s father was not able to get help from withdrawal clinics due to his son’s young age. Still, Jayden continues to improve, and his family is hopeful for the future.

While stories like these are encouraging, double-blind, clinical trials are needed in order to verify the effectiveness of marijuana-based medications on conditions such as epilepsy and autism. Companies like GW Technologies are leading the charge in establishing medical marijuana as a viable treatment.

You can see the trailer and purchase The Culture High at http://www.theculturehigh.com/index.html.

About the author 

Laurel Joss

Laurel Joss is a freelance writer with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She worked as an RDI® Program Certified Consultant and has published articles in Autism Spectrum Quarterly and on her blog www.remediatingautism.blogspot.com. She is a mother to two children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. You can also follow her on https://twitter.com/speaking_autism and https://www.facebook.com/speaking.autism.ca

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