Proponents of medical marijuana are pushing Ohio again to legalize cannabis for autistic people.
Numerous requests for the inclusion of autism spectrum disorder into the list of eligible medical disorders were submitted to the State Medical Board. In November and December of each year, applicants submit proposed new requirements to the board.
Multiple bills and initiatives have been proposed to give autistic Ohioans access to medical marijuana by lawmakers and supporters. The Ohio House of Representatives voted unanimously last year to add autism to the list, but the Senate never took up the measure. Cleveland Democrat Juanita Brent has announced her intention to introduce the bill again in the upcoming legislative session.
In his opinion, “these conversations need to go back to being between a patient and their doctor,” Brent stated. We need to provide as many avenues as possible for Ohioans to deal with this.
There have been many requests for autism that have been submitted and denied by the State Medical Board, most recently last year. It is also a requirement in a number of other states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania.
While studies have shown that cannabis may help with some of the main symptoms of autism spectrum condition, they have also stressed the need for more study in this area. Teens and children with autism are strongly advised against consuming marijuana, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Several parents spoke in favor of Brent’s legislation before a House committee, noting that their children had not benefited from alternative treatments and, in some cases, had experienced terrible side effects.
According to Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association director and autism advocate Matt Close, “Ohio’s patients and parents deserve the freedom to investigate alternative treatments for autism and should legally have access to the safe and tested medical marijuana that is produced in Ohio’s program.”
New petitions for autism, OCD, IBS, and anxiety will all be reviewed by the board. On February 8th, officials will decide whether conditions require additional scrutiny, and they will cast their final vote this summer.
Ohio’s medical marijuana conditions
The state currently has 25 qualifying conditions for medical marijuana:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
- Crohn’s disease
- Epilepsy or another seizure disorder
- Hepatitis C
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable
- Parkinson’s disease
- Positive status for HIV
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sickle cell anemia
- Spinal cord disease or injury
- Terminal illness
- Tourette syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury
- Ulcerative colitis
Haley BeMiller covers the state of Ohio for the USA TODAY Network, where she contributes to publications like the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal, and 18 others.