Ethical Implications for Providers Regarding Cannabis Use in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at risk for self-injurious behaviors that can be difficult to treat in the context of co-occurring low IQ and adaptive skills. Increased prevalence and decriminalization of cannabis in some states have led to more frequent questions for pediatricians about the use of cannabis for difficult-to-treat developmental and behavioral conditions. What do we know about the possible benefits and risks of cannabis use in children with ASD? How should the clinician respond to a parent who expresses interest in cannabis to manage behavior in a child with ASD? Ethical analysis that includes harm reduction, health concerns, and information sharing will be discussed. We present commentary on the ethical implications of cannabis use in children with ASD and severe self-harm behaviors.