State officials will review three new conditions—anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, and cachexia—for eligibility for medical marijuana treatment in Ohio. If approved, the list of qualifying MMJ conditions will grow to 24.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
The Autism Alliance of Ohio, which has been working to advocate to add autism to the list of conditions, states: “Autism now affects over 3.189 million children and young adults in the United States alone. That is more than Cancer, AIDS, Diabetes, Downs Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Cystic Fibrosis, and Cerebral Palsy combined.”
Tiffany Carwile has championed the fight for medical cannabis for autism patients in Ohio since 2016. Last year, Carwile shared over 500 pages of medical evidence with the Board. Nearly a dozen doctors from across the state validated Carwile’s evidence.
She recalls the Board’s experts concluding her evidence to be sufficient, however the Board revoked autism as a qualifying condition. The reason, the Board claims, were limitations on pediatric use and inability to remove conditions once approved.
“I’d love to have faith in the Board to do the right thing to approve medical cannabis access for autism,” Carwile explained in a recent interview. “But what we saw last year makes me wonder what would be enough to convince the Board.”
None of the approved qualifying conditions in Ohio have pediatric restrictions. Many of the conditions on the approved list coincide with or relate to autism.
Cachexia (from the Greek, meaning bad habit) has been prompted for the first time for the Board to consider. This condition describes the weakness and wasting of the body due to severe chronic illness and afflicts many as a symptom of already-approved conditions like include cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. Medical News Today reports that cachexia is responsible for one-fifth of deaths from cancer.
Of the 28 submitted conditions, there were repeated suggestions as well as several already-approved. Chronic pain and HIV/AIDS, for example, have already been approved as qualifying MMJ conditions on the list established in state law.
Last month when submitted conditions were released, an Ohioan mocked local sports teams’ strife by submitting a tongue-in-cheek request that fandom be as reasonable cause to use cannabis.
The Board disapproved “being a Browns/Bengals fan” as a valid MMJ condition. Additionally, the Board reported a lack of viable evidence as reasons for rejecting several formerly-petitioned conditions including depression, insomnia, and opioid use disorder. The Board cited a need for more concrete cannabis science and medical research in these areas before moving forward to add them to the list.
From Opiates to Cannabis
MedicateOH founder and publisher Gabrielle Dion Visca recently shared her journey from opiate dependant to MMJ patient. In her personal story, Dion Visca shares the struggle to manage pain daily. This resulted in opiate dependency.
Through sharing her story, Visca hopes to create a sense of transparency around what many Ohioans living with chronic pain face. She said she feels cannabis should be recognized as a legitimate alternative option not only for treating chronic pain but also for opiate withdrawal.
Using Your Voice
New this year, Ohioans have been invited to contact the Board to speak on the proposed conditions. Patients, advocates, and others can send their comments to MedicalMarijuana@med.ohio.gov by March 1. The Board encourages patients and advocates to express their ideas, thoughts, and concerns.
The three conditions still under consideration will be announced by the Board this summer.