UCSD to Research Effects of Medical Marijuana on Patients with Autism

This past week, the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation, along with the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation announced that they would be donating $4.7 million to UC San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. Proceeds will be focused on understanding how cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive compound found in cannabis, as a treatment for patients with severe autism.

The university proclaimed it as the largest donation on private medicinal cannabis research in U.S. history.

Introducing cannabidiol will allow for the evaluation of patients through a combination of clinical observations and interdisciplinary mathematical and scientific genetic techniques.   

David A. Brenner, vice chancellor of UCSD Health Sciences spoke out on the university’s collaboration with the participating organizations.    

“UC San Diego is pleased to partner with the Noorda and Wholistic foundations to advance understanding of when and how medicinal cannabis works, and to use this information to transform the lives of the many people for whom medicinal cannabis may make a meaningful difference in their quality of life,” Brenner stated. “We believe that by working together using evidence-based data, we can make the greatest impact on the field, our community and policy decision-makers.”

The UCSD Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research has a record of pioneering many projects in its field. In 2016 the California State Legislature-funded in part by Assembly Bill 266 and the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act- commissioned $1.8 million for UCSD scientists to develop a sobriety test to determine if drivers are impaired by marijuana. Just last year, with the enactment of Proposition 64, the Center announced that an annual $2 million be directed at the study of medical marijuana for alleviating chronic pain-related and neuropathic dysfunction.  

Autism is one of the many fields in neuroscience that obtained increasing identifiable abnormalities in recent years — examples including depleted amounts of serotonin, a hormone known for producing the sensation of happiness and disproportionate levels of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters.

Along with other upcoming treatments and their effect on autism, cannabidiol’s impact on the central nervous system plays a historic role in the comprehensive approach required for dealing with neurological disorders and understanding the spectrum that is neurodiversity.

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