Ohio medical board postpones approval for autism as qualifying condition for medical cannabis

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A proposal to add depression, opioid addiction and insomnia to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis was rejected on Wednesday by the Ohio State Medical Board. They also decided that a vote to include autism and anxiety as qualifying conditions will be postponed.  

 An advisory committee met last month to consider whether the five conditions should be added to the state’s medical marijuana program. Medical experts were asked to convince the committee to include autism and anxiety by presenting evidence.

The physicians panel was not able to come to a unanimous decision on depression, opioid addiction and insomnia and did not recommend any of the conditions after hearing from the experts.

The Board’s President, Dr. Michael Schottenstein, suggested that the vote on autism and anxiety be postponed so that the new members of the board have a chance to review the evidence presented by the committee. An exact date for the vote on including autism and anxiety has not been set, but it could potentially take place at the next board meeting in July.

He told that board that there is “no rush” to approve the proposals for anxiety and autism as qualifying conditions.

“I’m swallowing hard to even consider indications for medical marijuana for these conditions, given the very real concerns that I have about this drug” Schottenstein said at the meeting. “So if I have the time to educate myself or to hear from additional experts, to meet about it, and to either solidify by opinion or to provoke second thoughts, I’m glad for that.”

The decisions have been met with a lot of disappointment from patients and advocates in the state including Tiffany Carwile, the Ohio state director for the group Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for autism.

“I hope that they take into consideration the thousands of lives that this (decision) affects, not just for autism and anxiety but for the multitudes of people who will seek and get relief from medical cannabis without the cocktail of pharmaceuticals,” said Carwile. She said that she is hopeful that the new board members will carefully review the evidence.

There are currently 21 qualifying conditions for Ohio’s medical program that registered physicians can recommend treating with cannabis. The state currently has more than 30,000 patients who have registered to buy cannabis after being given doctor recommendations. Only about half of those registered have actually purchased cannabis since dispensaries opened in January.

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