SAN DIEGO — The University of California San Diego has announced that it will use the nearly $5 million grant they have received to study marijuana as a treatment for autism, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The university received a $4.7 million donation from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation for the multi-disciplinary research study. The University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research will study the non-psychoactive compound in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), as an autism treatment for children with severe forms of the disease.

The gift from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation is by far the most given in the U.S. to study medical marijuana and will treat children with the most severe symptoms of autism, including severe anxiety, seizures, and self-injuring behavior. Children participating in the study will be between the ages of 8 and 12.

Study Will Administer Liquid CBD and Include 30 Autistic Kids

Dropper with CBD Oil
Photo by: Roxana Gonzalez/Shutterstock
The study will include 30 autistic kids that will undergo behavioral testing and MRI scans. Children participating in the clinical trials will be administered an oral liquid form of cannabidiol from a federally approved lab.

Dr. Igor Grant and Dr. Doris Trauner will lead the study that will conclude whether cannabidiol is tolerable and safe, and whether it can alleviate symptoms occurring from autism spectrum disorder. The study will also try to figure out how cannabidiol alters brain activity and neurotransmitters, as well as whether biomarkers or neuroinflammation are changed by cannabidiol.

Researchers believe that cannabidiol has a positive effect on the central nervous system which could help to correct neurotransmitter imbalances that have been identified in people with autism.

President of the Autism Society of America, Scott Badesch, said that many parents have sworn that cannabidiol works on their kids but that the scientific research is essential in order for it to be accepted as a viable treatment option.

The Noorda Foundation is requesting that the federal government remove marijuana from Schedule I drug classification. Andy Noorda said that the Schedule I classification blocks medical research being conducted on marijuana as well as impedes clear guidelines being written for manufacturers and physicians to follow. He added that the foundation's goal is to change the stigma of marijuana with scientific data and research.

The Wholistic Research and Education Foundation partnered with the Noorda Foundation and UC San Diego for the study, which is set to begin next year.