Ohio to review Autism, IBS and OCD to as qualifying conditions for medical marijuana

The State Medical Board of Ohio said it will consider including three new qualifying conditions for medical marijuana this year: autism spectrum disorder, irritable bowel syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder.

After being rejected every year from 2019 through 2022, this year marks the fifth straight that autism is up for review.

And after being rejected in 2019, this is the second go-around for irritable bowel syndrome.

OCD, meanwhile, is up for review in Ohio for the first time.

Deemed a qualifying condition in several other markets, including the neighboring states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, autism has been conspicuous by its absence in Ohio’s list of permitted conditions for medical marijuana.

The Ohio board has previously rejected autism because of what it has deemed a dearth of scientific evidence behind the efficacy of marijuana in treating the disorder.

That position is shared by groups such as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which says there is “no scientific evidence showing efficacy for these indications nor is there reliable information regarding potency, quantity, frequency, route of administration, duration, or age safe for use.”

Of course, the nonprofit AACAP receives federal grant funding from the Department of Health and Human Services, and the federal government still considers marijuana a federally illicit substance.

While the science may be lacking, it continues to evolve.

Per Ohio statute, any previously rejected qualifying condition will not be reviewed a subsequent time “unless new scientific research that supports the request is offered.” Autism wouldn’t even be reconsidered this many times over if not for additional scientific evidence submitted with each review.

All the new qualifying conditions under review stem from 10 petitions submitted late last year.

Of those, seven were rejected for either not meeting rule requirements or being too similar to existing qualifying conditions.

The three in particular that are under review this year were petitioned for by the Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association trade group.

Written public comments about the qualifying conditions under review can be submitted through Feb. 24. Anyone can submit comments by emailing [email protected] The medical board will then vote in the summer about whether to add any of the proposed conditions.

There are currently 25 recognized qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Ohio: AIDS; Alzheimer’s disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; cachexia; cancer; chronic traumatic encephalopathy; Crohn’s disease; epilepsy or another seizure disorder; fibromyalgia; glaucoma; hepatitis C; Huntington’s disease; inflammatory bowel disease; multiple sclerosis; pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable; Parkinson’s disease; positive status for HIV; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spasticity; spinal cord disease or injury; terminal illness; Tourette syndrome; traumatic brain injury; and ulcerative colitis.

At just more than 159,000, the patient count in the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program has been either flat or declining in past months. The addition of new qualifying conditions could bring new customers onto the patient rolls.

That stagnant customer base is one of the ongoing challenges for the state’s medical marijuana industry amid some growing pains and an economic downturn that’s been impacting cannabis broadly.

The Ohio medical program, which generally is hindered by a lack of improvements, according to some reports, also continues to grapple with high retail prices compared with neighboring states.

These high prices may have contributed to a significant decrease in the growth of annual marijuana sales last year. Sales volumes increased by just 26% in 2022 compared with an increase of 72% in 2021.

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