Medical Marijuana for Autism, Anxiety?

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COLUMBUS — The State Medical Board’s Medical Marijuana Expert Review committee unanimously voted Wednesday to recommend two conditions be added to the list of qualify conditions that doctors can recommend be treated with medical marijuana.

Autism spectrum disorder and anxiety would be added to the list of 21 existing conditions in the state’s Medical Marijuana Control Program if the full board votes to accept the petitions at its June 12 meeting.

Legislation that created the program allows the medical board to approve new conditions every year. Citizens submitted 110 petitions requesting additional conditions in November and December. The board selected five conditions (combining chronic anxiety disorder and general anxiety disorder into one category) for experts to evaluate and make recommendations.

“Currently available evidence supports the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of symptoms associated with (Autism Spectrum Disorder),” according to one expert’s review of the condition.  “The evidence indicates that THC provides the principle benefits when patients are treated with medical cannabis. Currently available evidence does not support the use of CBD.”

“There is robust preclinical data and some clinical data regarding the effectiveness of cannabis or cannabinoids for the treatment of anxiety,” according to the board’s expert report. “Large-scale patient surveys identify improvement in core anxiety symptoms and reduction in potentially risky prescription medications.”

Review committee members also unanimously did not recommend three conditions at Wednesday’s meeting: insomnia, depression and opioid use disorder. The full board will still vote on these conditions next month, but with the recommendation.

Ohioans must receive a doctor’s recommendation before they can purchase medical marijuana at one of the state’s licensed dispensaries. Of the 56 licensed dispensaries, only 15 are operational.

Medical marijuana generated nearly $3.5 million in sales between when the first dispensary opened in September and mid-April.