The State Medical Board of Ohio rejected a proposal on Wednesday that would have added depression, opioid addiction, and insomnia to the list of conditions that qualify a patient for the state’s medical marijuana program. The board also decided to delay a vote on including anxiety and autism as qualifying conditions until new members of the body have a chance to review the evidence presented.
Last month, a board advisory committee met to consider adding the five medical conditions to the state’s medicinal cannabis program. Medical experts presenting evidence to the panel generally concurred that research supported the use of medical marijuana as a treatment for autism and anxiety, but disagreed on treating opioid addiction, depression, and insomnia with cannabis. The committee subsequently recommended that that the full board vote to add anxiety and autism and reject the proposals for the other three conditions.
Board President Dr. Michael Schottenstein suggested postponing the vote on adding anxiety and autism until two new members of the board have had an opportunity to review more than 2,000 pages of evidence from medical experts supporting the use of cannabis to treat autism and anxiety. A date for the vote by the full board has not yet been set, but it could occur as soon as the next meeting in July, according to media reports.
Schottenstein said during the meeting on Wednesday that there is “no rush” to approve the proposals.
“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,” he said. “So if I have the time to educate myself or to hear from additional experts, to meet about it, and to either solidify my opinion or to provoke second thoughts, I’m glad for that.”
The Ohio law that legalized the medicinal use of cannabis in 2016 included 21 medical conditions including cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and glaucoma that qualify a patient to access the state’s program. The measure also included an apparatus for the public to petition for new conditions to be added to the program on a yearly basis. Ohio’s medical marijuana currently has about 31,000 registered patients.
Tiffany Carwile, the Ohio state director for the national medicinal cannabis activist group Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism, said that she was disappointed that the board has delayed the vote but expressed optimism that the new members will carefully review the evidence.
“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.
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