“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a major nonpsychotropic constituent of cannabis sativa, which unlike the other major constituent delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta9-THC), is virtually inactive at both of its central nervous system receptors. In one study, cell-based calcium mobilization and electrophysiological assays were used to identify and characterize several novel cannabinoid TRPV2 agonists in cultured rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. Among these, CBD was found to be the most robust and potent, followed by delta9-THC and cannabinol. Those cannabinoids may, accordingly, possess the ability, due to their action as TRPV2 agonists, to increase the release of both oxytocin and vasopressin enhancing the stimulation of oxytocin receptor and V1a receptors at the same time. CBD displays a plethora of other actions including anticonvulsive, sedative, hypnotic, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. CBD and delta9-THC are components of drugs commercialized, in certain countries, as treatments for neuropathic pain, overactive bladder, and spasticity in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. Thus, despite their action on oxytocin and vasopressin release, CBD and delta9-THC may help in improving symptoms of ASD by their sedative, antipsychotic, anticonvulsant and tranquilizing effects. In addition, the cannabinoid system has already been shown to be implicated in social behavior in rats.
The administration of cannabinoids for children and adolescents suffering from ASD is a controversial legal and ethical issue. Instead, those cannabinoids may be tested when administered to animals presenting autistic symptoms. Animal models of autistic symptoms exist especially in rodents that have their oxytocin and/or vasopressin function impaired such as mice or rats lacking the oxytocin or vasopressin gene or one of their receptors]. Whenever cannabinoids were found efficient in animal models of autism, the rationale supporting their efficacy may outweigh their legal and ethical adversities, when administered to children in the setting of randomized controlled studies.”