A California cannabis patient's budding plant, raised in an indoor grow closet.

The University of California, San Diego has received a $4.7 million grant to study the efficacy of medical cannabis on autism spectrum disorders. The gift to the Center for Medical Cannabis Research to conduct the first-of-a-kind study is the largest private gift to date for medical cannabis research in the U.S. The award was given by the Noorda Foundation based on recommendations from the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation.

The study will investigate whether, and how, medical cannabinoid therapies can alleviate symptoms in children with severe autism. The study spans clinical, basic science, advanced mathematics, and genetic techniques across the same cohort of patients. The research offers a comprehensive and systematic exploration of CBD effectiveness on autism.

“The more severe manifestations of autism are difficult to treat, causing parents to look for non-traditional remedies. There are unconfirmed reports that [CBD] could be helpful, but there are no careful studies to document either its benefits or its safety. This gift will enable our researchers to develop and implement a translational program of research that pairs a clinical trial with detailed neurobehavioral observation, as well as basic science studies to determine if [CBD] holds therapeutic promise, and if so, via what mechanisms.” – Igor Grant, MD, professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego and CMCR director, in a press release

The research will include faculty and staff from the UC San Diego School of Medicine pediatrics, neurosciences, and cellular and molecular medicine departments, and UC San Diego School of Engineering.

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