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Ohio May Approve New Qualifying Conditions for Cannabis Use

December 5, 2019 • • Medical MarijuanaMental Health
Ohio May Approve New Qualifying Conditions for Cannabis Use

Ohio May Approve New Qualifying Conditions for Cannabis Use

The state is now considering whether to add more health conditions, including opioid addiction and depression, to the list of disorders now approved for medical marijuana.  With the early success of the state’s medical marijuana program, the State Medical Board of Ohio is now considering whether to add more ailments to a list of medical conditions approved for treatment with cannabis. For the first time since the state approved the use of medical marijuana in 2016, individuals were permitted to request that more conditions be authorized by the state for cannabis therapy.  About 30% of Ohioans qualify for medical cannabis therapy under the current list of health conditions, and adding additional conditions could open this option up to more patients. Petitions had to be filed by the end of December through the state’s Medical Marijuana Control Program website. After a review, the medical board is expected to make its decision by June 30. 

Can Cannabis Treat Opioid Addiction, Depression? 

Ohio currently allows medical marijuana for the treatment of 21 conditions, including AIDS, cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy and seizure disorders, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and chronic pain. Among the additional disorders now under review are anxiety, insomnia, depression, arthritis, lupus, autism, and opioid addiction. In the window before June 30, the board will be reviewing requests for each of the proposed conditions. To receive approval, petitioners must present journal articles and peer-reviewed medical evidence to make a case for cannabis as a treatment option for a proposed additional condition. Under current rules, the board can decline to review any petition for a medical syndrome previously rejected by the agency. Only if the petition brings forth new scientific research will it re-examine the request. There is some reason to think that many of these disorders could be approved, based on the available research. For instance, medical cannabis could plausibly help ease the opioid addiction epidemic. New York and Pennsylvania are two of the 31 states that have already passed laws approving medical marijuana as a therapy for opioid addiction, a move supported by several recent medical research studies. In fact, a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded states permitting medical marijuana saw a 25% drop in state-level opioid overdose mortality rates. Moreover, an analysis of 185 patients suffering from chronic pain conducted by the University of Michigan in 2016 uncovered similar results. Participants cut their prescription opioid use by 64%. On the other hand, a study from Harvard Medical School found marijuana can lead to temporary physical dependence itself, which may or may not be a significant factor for the board’s decision.  Medical research about the effectiveness of marijuana in treating depression and anxiety is more mixed. One analysis suggests it offers only temporary relief, while other ongoing medical reviews indicate it could be useful in the study of depression and the body’s endocannabinoid system that regulates how we experience mood and pain. Overall, the board will have to examine each condition separately to see if the existing, available research recommends medical marijuana as a plausible treatment. 

Treatment for Approved Conditions

Although medical marijuana is not yet approved as a treatment for these additional conditions, patients with any of the existing 21 approved conditions may want to consider medical marijuana as a solution. If other options have failed to work for you, the practitioners at Lakewood Medical Clinic can assess your health status to determine if cannabis is the right course of treatment for your specific condition. Schedule an appointment online today to consult with one of our medical experts.