Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a multifactorial, pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder defined by the core symptoms of significant impairment in social interaction and communication as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior. In addition to these core behaviors, persons with ASD frequently have associated noncore behavioral disturbance (ie, self-injury, aggression), as well as several medical comorbidities. Currently, no effective treatment exists for the core symptoms of ASD. This review reports the available preclinical and clinical data regarding the use of cannabis and cannabidiol in the treatment of core symptoms, noncore symptoms and comorbidities associated with ASD. Additionally, we describe our clinical experience working with children and young adults with ASD who have used cannabis or cannabidiol. At present, preclinical and clinical data suggest a potential for therapeutic benefit among some persons with ASD and that it is overall well tolerated. Further research is required to better identify patients who may benefit from treatment without adverse effects.
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