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Ohio Could Be the First State to Allow Medical Marijuana for the Treatment of Depression

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Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and since then, the state has seen a slow roll out of its program. There aren’t nearly enough dispensaries and only 40 percent of the state’s registered patients have bought their medical marijuana legally. In seems most patients are waiting for either prices to become more affordable or for a dispensary to open close enough to them to make the trip worth it.

Yet through all of this, the State Medical Board is considering adding five more illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions – depression, insomnia, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety and opioid use disorder (opiate addiction).

If the 12-member medical board decides to add these ailments, then Ohio would become the first state where depression is a qualifying condition. Though there is plenty of research and anecdotal evidence to suggest cannabis is especially useful for people suffering from these five illnesses, depression is the only one that is not on the list of qualifying conditions for any state where medical marijuana is currently legal.

Conditions currently covered under Ohio’s medical marijuana laws include: cancer, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, fibromyalgia, sickle cell disease and Tourette syndrome – all of which are commonly covered under medical marijuana laws across the country. However, Ohio has been a leader in adding new qualifying conditions before, being the only state where medical marijuana is allowed as treatment for people suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy – brain damage often sustained by boxers, football players and military veterans.

To add these five conditions to the list, a four-member advisory committee recommended a vote, which is currently scheduled for later this month. A full 12-member medical board final vote is expected by June 12th, which means thousands more might be able to access medical marijuana by the end of the summer.

Adding depression, insomnia, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety and opioid use disorder to the list of qualifying conditions could close to double the number of people who would qualify for medical marijuana in Ohio. There are roughly an additional 3.17 million who would qualify under only one of those five conditions. However, while bringing access to more patients is absolutely important, the biggest thing to note here is the fact that Ohio is willing to recognize depression as a condition that benefits from medical marijuana, perhaps making other states consider adding it as well.

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