Proposals to treat autism and anxiety with medical marijuana were rejected by a state medical board committee last week. The panel recommended that the full board approve one new condition: cachexia, or wasting syndrome.
Anxiety, autism spectrum disorder and cachexia had been considered to join the list of 21 qualifying medical conditions included in Ohio’s 2016 medical marijuana law.
A State Medical Board committee reviewed petitions to add those conditions and sought an expert opinion about cachexia. The panel recommended on Wednesday approving cachexia and rejecting autism and anxiety.
The board is expected to make a final decision on the conditions during its July meeting.
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The board rejected autism, anxiety and three other conditions last year, the first in which it accepted petitions for new conditions. The petition review committee had recommended that the two conditions go forward last year and then reversed its position after hearing from children’s hospitals.
The panel, which met this time via video chat, did not explain why it recommended against adding autism and anxiety.
The board received 136 public comments on the petitions, including pleas to reject the conditions from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association.
“The inclusion of autism and anxiety as conditions has the potential to negatively impact the health and well being of thousands of children in Ohio,” the association’s Sarah Kincaid wrote. “There is little rigorous evidence that marijuana or its derivatives is of benefit for patients with autism and anxiety, but there is a substantial association between cannabis use and the onset or worsening of several psychiatric conditions.”
The majority of the comments supported the conditions. One man said that marijuana has been a “miracle drug” for him.
“My anxiety just melts away,” he wrote. “I would love to be able to get my medicine legally and not feel like a criminal.”
Cachexia causes severe weight loss and can be associated with cancer, HIV or AIDS or other chronic conditions. Some of those conditions, but not all, are already included in Ohio’s medical marijuana program.