Among the proposed additions: depression and insomnia, which affect hundreds of thousands in the state.
An advisory committee for the state's medical board began studying whether medical marijuana could help the ailments in January. The three other conditions being considered are anxiety, autism spectrum disorder and opioid use disorder, a formal term used for opioid addiction.
Tiffany Carwile of Bryan, Ohio, has a 5-year-old son with autism. Last autumn, when the state allowed residents to suggest new qualifying conditions, Carwile prepared a 500-page document supporting medical marijuana for autism. She is the Ohio director of Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism.
“Medical marijuana is not a cure for autism. I’m not saying this is going to cure my son. But I know it’s going to dramatically improve his quality of life,” Carwile said. “If some day he can say, ‘I love you, Mom,’ I will be the happiest person in the world.”
If the board adds depression and insomnia, Ohio will be the first state to make them qualifiers for medical marijuana.
The four-member advisory committee plans to recommend additions, if any, in a May 8 vote. The full 12-member medical board expects a final vote on June 12.
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia now allow medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. Each state has a different qualifying conditions.
Some conditions covered in Ohio are also covered in other medical-marijuana states, such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and glaucoma.
But Ohio also covers rarer conditions such as sickle cell disease, fibromyalgia and Tourette syndrome. Ohio is the only state to allow medical marijuana for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain damage most often found in boxers, football players and military veterans.
If the medical board adds all five conditions, the number of Ohioans eligible for a medical marijuana card will nearly double, with another 3.17 million people.
The Enquirer estimated the number of people potentially eligible for a medical marijuana card under the five proposed conditions by consulting the Ohio Department of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private nonprofits that raise money for medical research.
Autism spectrum disorder
Number of patients: About 44,000 Ohio children. Children can get a medical marijuana card under a parent’s authority. It's not known how many Ohio adults live with autism.
Evidence: There's little clinical research about effectiveness because there's been little study since the federal government considers marijuana as dangerous as heroin. In December, the national organization Autism Speaks held a conference on the topic, and experts called for more study.
States that qualify this condition: Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Utah
Number of patients: About 1.6 million Ohioans
Evidence: There's little clinical research about effectiveness because there's been little study since the federal government considers marijuana as dangerous as heroin. A 2012 study by two California researchers said marijuana could be promising, but more study is needed.
States that qualify this condition: New Jersey, West Virginia
Number of patients: About 725,000 Ohioans.
Evidence: There's little clinical research about the effectiveness of medical marijuana because there's been little study since the federal government considers marijuana as dangerous as heroin. A 2018 study of responses to an Internet survey found that marijuana users reported less depression and anxiety.
States that qualify this condition: None
Number of patients: At least 860,000 Ohioans.
Evidence: There's little clinical research about effectiveness because there's been little study since the federal government considers marijuana as dangerous as heroin. A 2018 New Mexico study of 409 people responding to an Internet survey found a significant improvement in sleep.
States that qualify this condition: None
Opioid use disorder, or addiction
Number of patients: No one knows. No government or medical authority is counting.
Evidence: There's little clinical research about effectiveness because there's been little study since the federal government considers marijuana as dangerous as heroin. In August, The Enquirer examined the prospect of using marijuana for the condition.
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