Israel is rapidly becoming the promised land of medical cannabis research — and, potentially, the source of medical-grade marijuana for researchers the world over. In yet another first from the country where researchers first isolated THC and discovered the body’s endocannabinoid system, an Israeli researcher is laying plans to conduct the world’s first study into whether cannabis aids people with autism. Dr. Adi Eran’s planned investigation into whether medical cannabis will aid 120 “low to medium functioning” autistic individuals will have the blessing of Israel’s Health Ministry, and will be the “first of its type,” according to Haaretz.
One of autism’s best-known symptoms is an inability to understand “normal” social cues.
Studies have shown that increased activity at the CB1 endocannabinoid receptor has improved social function, suggesting that a potential treatment in autism may lie in substances that trigger that receptor — including phytocannabinoids, which are the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. In Eran’s study, participants will be given oils high in cannabidiol, or CBD.
Eran is a head of pediatrics neurology at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. He’s already received approval “in principle” from the Health Ministry to conduct his study, and is in the process of finding research subjects, Haaretz reported.
Several Israeli families with severely autistic members have already received permission to use medical cannabis and have found some positive results, the website noted. According to one nurse, administering CBD oil three times daily to austim sufferers calmed them significantly and made them less prone to violence. However, the treatment has yet to be tested under rigorous conditions.
In the meantime, Israel is making moves to greatly expand the amount of cannabis available to research — and, according to the country’s agriculture minister, so much will be available that the the country could begin exporting the plant to other countries.
One hold-up is that cannabis growers in Israel say that growing the plant is not economically feasible unless it’s available to be exported.
Over the weekend, Minister Uri Ariel told Israel Radio that, “eventually,” cannabis growers could be allowed to export the plant, Breakingisraelnews.com reported.
Pending approval from some unwilling arms of government, Israeli cannabis exports could begin within two years, he predicted.
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