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Ohio Board Votes Against Adding Opioid Addiction to Medical Cannabis Program

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The State Medical Board of Ohio recently voted against a proposal that would have added opioid addiction, depression and insomnia to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program. Additionally, the board opted to delay voting on whether to add autism and anxiety to the list.

In May, a board advisory committee met to consider if these five conditions should be added to the list. Experts who provided testimonials to the panel were in agreement that autism and anxiety should be added to the list, but said they didn’t think insomnia, depression or opioid addiction should be included.

Board President Dr. Michael Schottenstein recommended postponing voting on whether to add autism and anxiety to the list, because board members had not yet had the opportunity to review all of the 2,000 pages of evidence from medical experts about the effectiveness of cannabis in treating the two conditions.

“I’m swallowing hard to even consider indications for medical marijuana for these conditions, given the very real concerns that I have about this drug,” Schottenstein said. “So if I have the time to educate myself or to hear from additional experts, to meet about it, and to either solidify my opinion or to provoke second thoughts, I’m glad for that.”

Schottenstein added that there was “no rush” to add the proposed conditions to the list. Parents of children with autism and those who suffer from anxiety might disagree with Schottenstein’s stance that there is no rush to do so, especially because many of them have been likely waiting patiently since the adoption of Ohio’s medical program in 2016.

The grassroots education group Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism, also know as MAMMA, were disappointed with the board’s decision, but remain hopeful for the future. Tiffany Carwile, the Ohio state director of MAMMA, expressed optimism that the evidence would be reviewed carefully and that the board would come to the right decision.

“I hope that they take into consideration the thousands of lives that this decision affects, not just for autism and anxiety but for the multitudes of people who will seek and get relief from medical cannabis without the cocktail of pharmaceuticals,” said Carwile.

Autism is now a qualifying condition for the medical cannabis program of 12 states, and groups like MAMMA hope that Ohio can become one of them. Ohio currently has a list of 21 medical conditions that qualify for medical cannabis, with 31,000 registered patients.

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