Medical Marijuana: Ohioans Ask For More Conditions To Qualify

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Ohioans have asked state officials to add more disorders such as autism, arthritis and opioid addiction to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. Later this month a committee of the State Medical Board will consider those requests.

Sales of marijuana for medical use are expected to start this month, and patients must carry a doctor’s recommendation to purchase the drug. The 2016 law creating the state’s program lists 21 medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana use but permits the Medical Board to add more conditions.

So far, about 4,000 Ohioans have obtained a medical marijuana card. An Enquirer analysis last year estimated that as many as three out of 10 Ohioans could qualify for a card with the initial 21 conditions.

The Medical Board can take petitions once a year to add conditions to the qualifying list. The window opened Nov. 1 and closed Dec. 31, and the Medical Board received 110 petitions, many of which asked the board to add conditions already in the state’s law, such as cancer, chronic pain and fibromyalgia.

But others asked for consideration of a wide spectrum of ailments, chiefly anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Others requested medical marijuana for autism, migraines, lupus, severe acne, hyperthyroidism and arthritis. Two petitions asked the board to consider adding opioid addiction as a qualifying condition, as New York and Pennsylvania did last year.

Tessie Pollock, spokeswoman for the State Medical Board, said board lawyers are reviewing the petitions, and they will make recommendations to a committee set to meet Wednesday in Columbus. The committee will vote on which petitions will get more review by medical specialists for the various conditions and experts in medical marijuana programs in other states.

The committee then will make a recommendation to the full Medical Board by June 30 on which conditions to add to the qualifying list.

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, based primarily on the argument that human beings have used marijuana as a remedy for 5,000 years.

The federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I drug with no therapeutic value, so little clinical research has been done on marijuana in the United States. Only last year did the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve a marijuana-derived drug, Epidiolex, for treatment of severe epilepsy. Thirteen patients in Cincinnati participated in the research for the drug.