Ohio State Medical Board rejects autism and anxiety as qualifying conditions for cannabis

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Cannabis regulators have put forward a recommendation to bulk up the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Ohio. Cachexia – otherwise known as “wasting syndrome” – could soon be included on the state’s eligibility criteria.

This medical condition is characterized by weight/muscle loss, weakness, fatigue and lack of appetite. Since cannabis is renowned for causing consumers to get the “munchies” – depending on the cannabinoid composition of the strain they are consuming – medical cannabis in Ohio could be an effective alternative to OTC appetite stimulants.

In March, recommendations to include autism and anxiety as qualifying conditions were also considered. However, the state medical board committee rejected these pleas. Instead, they have proposed cachexia as an addition to the 21-strong list of conditions.

Currently, registered patients can enroll in the state’s program if they are diagnosed with one of the following qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Ohio:

  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou Gehrig’s 
  • Cancer
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy or other seizure disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis 
  • HIV
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic, severe or intractable pain
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Spinal cord disease or injury
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Ulcerative colitis

If cachexia is added to the list of qualifying conditions in Ohio, regulators feel hopeful that dispensary revenue could be given a boost. 

State Medical Board to confirm qualifying conditions for Ohio medical cannabis in July

In 2019, the State Medical Board of Ohio dismissed recommendations to include anxiety and autism on the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Ohio. Three other conditions were also rejected. A board meeting that is set to commence this July will determine the reason(s) why members didn’t approve of adding autism and anxiety to the list of qualifying conditions.

Board members made their decision after consulting with children’s hospitals about the suitability of including such conditions on the state’s eligibility criteria; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohio Children’s Hospital Association decided against the recommendations.

“The inclusion of autism and anxiety as conditions has the potential to negatively impact the health and well being of thousands of children in Ohio,” wrote the association’s Sarah Kincaid. “There is little rigorous evidence that [cannabis] or its derivatives is of benefit for patients with autism and anxiety, but there is a substantial association between cannabis use and the onset or worsening of several psychiatric conditions.”

A total of 136 public comments were received once the petitions had been filed to include anxiety and autism on the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Ohio. Included in the comments were requests for Ohio’s Medical Board to deny petitioners their wish.

Medical cannabis sales in Ohio have been consistently strong

As April came to an end, medical cannabis dispensaries in Ohio had collectively pulled in around $50 million in sales. The impressive sales were a direct effect of increased patient registration, with more than 100,000 patients having signed up for the state’s program at this time.

During March, sales of medical cannabis in Ohio topped $13 million; indicating a $37 million surge in revenue for the following month. Dispensaries were deemed “essential business” during the COVID-19 outbreak and therefore the state did not suffer an economic downturn amid the pandemic. 

Should the State Medical Board of Ohio include cachexia on the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Ohio, sales revenue will likely go from strength-to-strength.