Ohio Can Make Medical Marijuana History
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Ohio is on the verge of adding up to five new conditions to the list of 21 that currently qualify patients for a medical marijuana recommendation. In fact, Ohio could become the first state in the country to allow medical cannabis as a treatment for insomnia and depression!
The State Medical Board of Ohio will soon make a decision as to whether or not they will approve these conditions, along with anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and opioid use disorder. Petitions filed last fall have been under consideration since January of this year, with these five conditions being the finalists to be added. This would mark the first expansion to the list of approved qualifying conditions since Ohio’s medical program was signed into law by Gov. Kasich in 2016 via House Bill 523.
What Happens Next In Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Industry?
The next step is a vote by the board’s advisory committee, taking place on May 8th. The four-member committee will decide which additions - if any - they will recommend. A final vote by the full 12-member medical board will likely take place on June 12th, at which point they will finalize any changes to the list of qualifying conditions.
The medical board will have the opportunity to examine, and potentially add, new conditions every year! Patients will once again have the opportunity to file petitions for consideration later this year. Per the board’s website, the next petition submission period to add qualifying conditions to Ohio's program will be November 1 - December 31, 2019.
What Conditions Might Be Added?
Let's take a look at the different conditions that are currently being considered, some of the research and data that is providing the medical basis for these conditions to be added, and how significant approving these conditions could be for Ohioans:
Anxiety Disorder: The Cleveland Clinic states that anxiety disorders affect about 40 million Americans. When it comes to mental illnesses, anxiety is the most common in the United States. Symptoms most often begin in childhood and are more likely to occur in women than men. Studies have shown that CBD has great potential in treating anxiety and should be studied further to determine the extent of its anxiolytic properties.
Depression: Washington State University researchers conducted a 2018 study on the potential of treating depression with medical cannabis; the results were encouraging: symptom ratings were reduced in 89.3% of the sessions, with only 3.2% reporting an increase in symptoms after medicating with cannabis. While more research is needed, this is a very optimistic sign for the future of cannabis as a treatment for depression.
Insomnia: According to the National Sleep Foundation, “50 to 70 million Americans are affected by chronic sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems that can significantly diminish health, alertness and safety. Untreated sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Sleep problems can take many forms and can involve too little sleep, too much sleep or inadequate quality of sleep.” It is now widely acknowledged that a lack of proper sleep is a serious medical issue in America, and medical marijuana could help. A 2008 study showed that cannabis “appears to facilitate falling asleep and to increase Stage 4 sleep.” In addition it appears to reduce the amount of REM and assists with deep sleep.
Autism Spectrum Disorder: According to the CDC, 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, although minority groups tend to be diagnosed less often and later in life. Boys are 4 times more likely to have ASD than girls. An Israeli study of 188 teens diagnosed with ASD found that after 6 months of treatment, more than 80% of patients reported an improvement in their symptoms, with 30% of those patients characterizing their level of improvement as “significant.” The study also determined that cannabis oil is “safe and effective” in treating the symptoms of ASD.
Opioid Use Disorder: As we have previously discussed, the opioid epidemic has been devastating in this country, and few states have been hit harder than Ohio. We are at the epicenter of this horrible plague and we need all the help we can get. Well, one Michigan study found that medical cannabis was associated with a 64% decrease in opioid use, a decrease in the number and severity of side effects from medications, and an increased quality of life. At a time when so many are feeling the hurt of this epidemic, this would be a necessary step in the right direction.
Why Adding Conditions To Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Program Matters
Tiffany Carwile is the director of the Ohio chapter of Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism. Her 500-page petition supporting marijuana as a treatment for autism is one of the applications currently being reviewed by the medical board. Carwile also has a 5-year-old son with autism; she acknowledges that medical marijuana is not a “cure” for autism, but knows that it has the potential to “dramatically improve [her son’s] quality of life.”
Carwile sums up her motivation: “If some day he can say, ‘I love you, Mom,’ I will be the happiest person in the world.”
The addition of these conditions could mean that up to half of Ohio’s population may qualify for a medical cannabis recommendation! It would mean helping families struggling with conditions out of their control bringing stability back into their lives. This conversation is much deeper than just cannabis - it concerns the health and livelihood of individuals across Ohio.
It would also likely mean that, in order to meet the increased demand, the state might have to consider issuing more licenses to cultivators, processors, and retail dispensaries. Currently, 15 dispensaries have been issued their Certificate of Operation, which is typically considered the final hurdle retailers must clear to pave the way for opening their doors.
What Is The Status Of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Program?
Thus far, 59 provisional licenses have been issued to dispensaries upon the program’s onset. The state has come under criticism, with some patients saying that the program has rolled out too slowly, resulting in a lack of access for many. Patients in the southwest area of the state have been particularly critical, as they continue to wait for their first dispensary.
Price has been another issue. Many patients have been wary of participating in the program until Ohio’s marijuana prices fall more in line with national averages.
Many of these issues seem to stem from a higher demand than was previously anticipated when the timetable for implementation was originally conceived by Ohio’s government. According to the latest numbers released by the Medical Marijuana Control Program, over 28,000 patients have received their medical marijuana recommendation with more than 24,500 of those patients having already registered with the state.
How Does Ohio Marijuana Compare To Other States?
Currently, there are 33 states (and Washington, D.C.) which have medical cannabis programs on the books. With approval of the new qualifying conditions in Ohio, it would mark the first time either depression or insomnia have been approved for treatment with medical cannabis in any state. Autism, anxiety, and opioid addiction have all been approved by at least one other state.
Will this be the catalyst for further reforms to Ohio’s medical cannabis program? It will be difficult to affirm until the state makes their final recommendations in June. But, we can all agree that increasing the scope of Ohio’s program will serve to help meet the needs of more patients, both in the short and long term.
If you are interested in reading more on the conditions being considered, make sure to read and watch The Cincinnati Enquirer's coverage: https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2019/05/05/medical-marijuana-ohio-depression-insomnia-anxiety-autism/3620992002/
If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products. For those affected by anxiety disorders, depression, opioid use disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or insomnia make sure to check back in July for the medical board's final decision.
Click here to learn more about what Ohio Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (1-866-457-5559) and our friendly Patient Support Team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.