Ohio Could Add Anxiety and Autism to List of Conditions Eligible for Medicinal Marijuana

The state's medical board will vote on the additions in June

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A committee of the Ohio Medical Board Wednesday recommended that anxiety and autism be added to the 21 conditions that qualify someone to have access to medical marijuana under the state's program.

Ohio's medical marijuana program allows people who have conditions like diabetes, cancer and a number of others to gain a card that allows them to buy the drug from 15 state-approved dispensaries. So far, 31,000 patients have registered.

The additions, if approved, could expand the number of people eligible for medicinal marijuana significantly. Estimates place the number of people in Ohio with anxiety at more than 1.5 million — a surprisingly low number when you think about Ohio, actually.

The whole board will vote on the additions in June. The committee rejected three other conditions as possibilities: opiate addiction, insomnia and depression. Like a lot of other treatments, the board found that marijuana might make someone more likely to sleep for a short time, but doesn't help the body set a regular sleep cycle over time. The board cited a lack of research on the drug's effects on depression.

The verdict on marijuana as a treatment for opiate addiction is more split — Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York allow it, though some experts say it is ineffective. 

The board considered submissions for more than 110 conditions it solicited in late 2018 before narrowing the pool down to five. The board then sought advice from medical professionals and other experts on those conditions. The main criteria was whether medicinal marijuana was at least as good and as safe as other existing legal therapies for a condition. 

Thirty-three states have legalized medical marijuana for at least some conditions. Utah, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Louisiana, Iowa, Delaware and Colorado all allow medical marijuana use for autism. West Virginia and New Jersey have approved the use of the drug for anxiety. 

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