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Ohio Medical Board Won't Allow Medical Marijuana to Be Used to Treat Autism

The decision was made after a reccomendation earlier this year to the conditions that could be treated.

Earlier this week, a State Medical Board of Ohio committee decided there wasn’t enough scientific proof that medical marijuana would help with anxiety and autism spectrum disorder. That reversed a recommendation made earlier this summer by the committee that the drug be added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use in Ohio. The change isn’t sitting well with parents who had hoped to be able to transition their autistic children off prescription drugs to marijuana. 


Carrie Taylor of Marysville has twin boys who suffer from autism who have tried but cannot take prescription drugs commonly prescribed to help kids with their disorder. 

“It made them rage, it made them tired, they looked sick and they looked like they felt terrible. And I thought if this is not improving the quality of their life, why are we doing this?”

Taylor said her children cannot deal with everyday situations that healthy kids can manage. She said other children with similar conditions in other states are being treated successfully with medical marijuana so she wanted Ohio to allow that to happen here.

“It’s exciting that there is something available that could help them be part of the community and function and be independent and happy but the fact that it is not legal in Ohio, I’m just watching it happen for other people and it’s very frustrating.”

The reversal
Tessie Pollack with the State Medical Board of Ohio said a committee has reversed an earlier recommendation to add autism to the list of conditions for which marijuana could be used.

“There’s just not a lot of peer reviewed research on the impacts of medical marijuana, especially in children. I think we are going to start to see more studies as states start to adopt medical marijuana programs and more  researchers are able to look into that but at this time, they just don’t exist.”

But Mike Hartley, a Republican strategist who is the father of an autistic child, said he isn’t buying it.

“It’s a crutch. That’s is a fallback argument. Well, we need to do more research. We don’t know what the long-term effects are. Well, wait a second. What about long-term effects of these long-term effects of these pills and synthetic drugs are that you are giving our kids?”

Pollack said people who want autism and anxiety added to the list of 21 qualifying conditions can come back to the board once new studies come out to make their case.

“The petition requires not just the name of the condition or someone saying ‘I feel this should be the case.’  You know we are asking for scientific evidence, we are asking for research studies and additional information and you know you can again certainly ask for that condition, but we just want to see additional research studies this time. Sometime new. Some information we didn’t see the first time. And then it can be considered again.” 

Hurdles ahead
Supporters will likely have another hurdle to face. There has been some confusion about whether conditions put on the list can be removed if needed or if they would be permanent. A spokesman for the Ohio Senate said the legislature would allow a state agency to make rules on what should be on or off the list. 

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.