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Ohio Adds Cachexia to List of Qualifying Conditions, Rejects Anxiety and Autism

September 8, 2020 • • Marijuana LawsMedical Marijuana

Cachexia, or chronic wasting syndrome, is often associated with other serious health conditions. The good news is that it can now be treated with medical cannabis in Ohio.

  Since Ohio’s state-wide medical marijuana program was signed into law, it has allowed citizens with 21 qualifying health conditions to legally seek cannabis-based treatment. Cannabis has a range of promising uses for a variety of health conditions, which is why medical marijuana advocates have been petitioning to add more qualifying conditions to the list, including anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, and cachexia.

The Ohio regulatory board voted recently to make cachexia a qualifying condition, but rejected petitions to do the same for anxiety and autism spectrum disorder. While this is not the outcome that cannabis advocates had hoped for, regulators voted according to
recommendations from the state’s medical board committee released in June.

Here’s what you should know about the three conditions up for review, as well as the reasoning behind the regulatory board’s recent decision.

What Is Cachexia?

Cachexia is a complex chronic wasting condition that’s often caused by other critical health issues, such as cancer, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, HIV/AIDS, and others. The most common symptoms of cachexia are a loss of appetite, muscle mass, and weight, as well as fatigue.

However, even though cachexia can be caused by conditions like cancer and HIV/AIDS — both of which can be treated with cannabis in Ohio — up until this latest vote, patients could not use medical cannabis to treat cachexia specifically. Further, while medical marijuana might not be beneficial for treating conditions like heart failure, it often is an effective appetite stimulant, which can be helpful for ensuring that seriously ill patients gain or maintain weight properly.

Dr. Michael Schottenstein, president of the state’s regulatory board, also underscored the importance of the social aspect of patient care. “Eating is a source of enjoyment for patients and it’s a means to socialize with family and friends,” he said. “Patients socially isolate when they can’t eat.”

Now that cachexia is a qualifying condition in Ohio, patients with physician referrals can treat their symptoms with medical cannabis, regardless of the underlying conditions that could be causing it.

Why Were Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorder Rejected?

Supporters of expanding medical cannabis regulation have previously petitioned to add anxiety and autism spectrum disorder to Ohio’s list of qualifying conditions, and the most recent ruling is the second year in a row that those petitions have been rejected.

Much of the resistance comes from the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, which holds the position that cannabis-based treatments do more harm than good for those who have anxiety or autism spectrum disorder, especially with regard to children. Dr. Schottenstein also said that the case made for adding the two conditions to the qualifying list wasn’t “substantially different” from what had been presented the previous year.

The ruling ultimately underscores the need for more research to demonstrate whether medical marijuana provides a significant benefit for patients with these conditions. An
FDA-approved study at the Yale School of Medicine could potentially provide some insight into how medical cannabis interacts with the human body, especially over long periods of time.

The state medical board is accepting petitions to add more conditions to the qualifying list through November 1.

Is Medical Cannabis Right for You?

If you live in Ohio and think you may have cachexia or one of the 21 other qualifying conditions,
contact us today. At Lakewood Medical Center, we strive to make medical cannabis accessible and understandable to each of our patients. We know that asking about alternative methods of care can be challenging, which is why our team of medical cannabis specialists is ready and able to answer any questions you may have in a comfortable setting. Get in touch to find out whether medical marijuana can help you!