Three Conditions Considered; One Approved

Following a February announcement of the consideration of implementing three new qualifying conditions, (Autism, Anxiety, and Cachexia) for medical marijuana treatment– the Ohio State Medical Board met quietly today, via a virtual conference to further discuss the potential addition of these conditions.

Under which consideration, any of these ailments could potentially be the first conditions to be successfully implemented within Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program since the passage of HB-523, in 2016. 

However, the conclusion of the meeting was met with the potential denial of further consideration for Autism Spectrum Disorder and Anxiety. Cachexia will now be the only condition approved in 2020 to move forward to potentially become a qualifying condition for MMJ treatment in Ohio. 

Annually, from November 1st , until December 31st, the OSMB allows Ohio citizens to present medical evidence and scientific research to be provided to the state, via electronic petition, in proposal of new conditions to be implemented by the board. 

Autism and Anxiety Once Again Face Denial 

With these two conditions were voted down, there is no permitting further approval by committee members at this month’s meeting. There was no clear reasoning given as to why the rejection to approve took place. The conditions are still to be presented to the full panel, next month. 

It’s now a familiar fight, as this is not the first rodeo for these conditions. In 2019, autism spectrum disorder and anxiety were both under consideration to be added as qualifying conditions. Although the evidence presented for autism and anxiety as qualifying conditions was endorsed by the Ohio State Medical Board’s expert panel of medical professionals, the conditions were ultimately denied. 

Upon denial in 2019, Dr. Michael Schottenstein, president of the Ohio State Medical Board, stated approval felt “premature.”

The decision brought forth a new initiative for legislative intervention and was then put forward brought forth to the Ohio General Assembly by the Autism Alliance of Ohio.

Constituents and Legislators Dispute The Denial of Autism 

Nevertheless, Ohio voters, constituents, and various legislative officials seem to disagree with the repetitive response of denial to autism from the Ohio State Medical Board. This is reflective of the recurrence of last year’s vote against the addition of anxiety and autism. 

In contrast to the medical board, last month Ohio House Representative, Juanita Brent, introduced a Cannabis Bill package that would not only decriminalize marijuana use in Ohio but would also add Autism Spectrum Disorder to Ohio’s list of qualifying conditions for MMJ treatment. 

“Ohio families should not have to move to one of the seventeen other states who already permit autism as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis to comfort their child,” Brent stated in her press release in May. last month.

The legislation introduced to potentially add Autism potentially to the list of qualifying conditions for MMJ treatment in Ohio, (HB641) includes a wide array of bipartisan cosponsors in support from the Ohio House, from both Democratic and Republican representatives. (including State Representatives Phil Robinson, Bill Seitz, Erica Crawley, Michael Sheehy, Lisa Sobecki, George Lang, Michael O’Brien, and Mary Lightbody.)

Currently, there are 17 autism-friendly states that allow MMJ utilization in the treatment of ASD, pediatric patients included, and 11 states that permit MMJ usage in the treatment of anxiety. Due to similar resistance in various other legal -states, most have had to add conditions like anxiety and autism as qualifying conditions, via legislative acts.course. 

Cachexia Moves Forward

Not all petitions were dismissed. A condition newly proposed as of this year that is associated with extreme weight loss, cachexia, will move forward. Cachexia is defined as “a wasting condition that triggers serious weight loss that is more commonly associated with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and various other debilitating ailments.” Many of these happen to be approved qualified conditions included within Ohio’s pre-existing MMJ program.

Upon approval, the medical board committee acknowledged pre-existing FDA approved, synthetic pharmaceutical interventions that include compounds containing tetrahydrocannabinol to treat the condition.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid more commonly known as THC, is an organic, therapeutic derivative found within the cannabis plant. This cannabinoid compound is used in the treatment of a wide array of ailments ranging from neurological ailments like PTSD and seizures to physical ailments, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal conditions as well. 

Dr. Schottenstein, current president of the Ohio State Medical Board, stated that cannabis could be instrumental for those with cachexia in terms of an increase in one’s appetite. “From a mental health standpoint, it could be really beneficial to give someone something to increase their appetite even if it doesn’t go (to) the heart of the cachexia per se,” Schottenstein stated in the video conference.

Hope Prevails

Although the committee passed a motion to approve the further research of cachexia, and deny approval of autism and anxiety, the full committee will still be reviewing all three petitions at next month’s board meeting, scheduled Wednesday, July 8th. 

Despite resistance from the OSMB, the wealth of bipartisan proponents in support of the newly introduced cannabis-friendly, autism legislation shows thus far to be a more promising route.

“Parents who have children with autism are seeking additional treatment options,” Rep. Brent stated. A hearing date for proposed legislation, HB-641, has yet to be announced.

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