Officials seek public comments on potential new Ohio medical marijuana conditions


By Laura Hancock - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)



COLUMBUS, Ohio — State officials are accepting written public comments on six ailments that could potentially get added to the qualifying conditions list for medical marijuana.

The State Medical Board of Ohio will accept emails through Feb. 26 on the following conditions:

• autism

• Huntington’s disease

• panic disorder with agoraphobia

• restless leg syndrome

• spasticity and spasms

• terminal illness

On Wednesday, the board’s Medical Marijuana Committee reviewed 30 petitions of new conditions to potentially add to the current list.

But the board rejected most of the petitions for reasons ranging from the condition is already allowed — which was the case for post-traumatic stress disorder — to petitions that were incomplete, since the medical board requires petitioners to attach medical studies showing the efficacy of marijuana or information from experts who specialize in the study or treatment of the condition.

On March 8, the board’s Medical Marijuana Committee is expected to review the public comments. The full medical board is also expected to vote that day on whether to reject or proceed with the six petitions.

On Wednesday, the Medical Marijuana Committee members seemed particularly interested in learning more about Huntington’s disease, since there are no pharmaceutical medicines that can cure it.

“It is neurodegenerative,” said Dr. Yeshwant P. Reddy, a Columbus spine physiatrist and pain consultant. “It is genetic and we do not have any treatment whatsoever, which would help this condition. I do think this is a very, very genuine condition which we need to approve.”

In addition to Huntington’s disease, the committee will hear from experts about how medical marijuana could affect restless leg syndrome, spasticity and spasms and terminal illness.

The board opted against bringing in experts for autism and panic disorder with agoraphoia. Instead it will serve as its own experts, since the conditions have been before the board in the past, with scientific studies and expert witnesses.

The medical board is conservative about adding conditions and usually ends the process each year by rejecting all potential conditions. An exception was last year, when the board added cachexia or wasting disease to the list.

The board has faced public pressure to add autism but has resisted, relying on last-minute testimony from doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in 2019, who told them the marijuana could be harmful in children, and that pharmaceutical drugs are available. One Nationwide doctor ran trials of Epidiolex, a cannabis-based medication for seizures manufactured by the pharmaceutical company GW Research.

Last week, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the Ohio House that would legalize medical marijuana for people with autism. House Bill 60 had a first hearing Tuesday.

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By Laura Hancock

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

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