Ohio May Be First To Approve Medical Marijuana For Depression, Insomnia

By Victoria Kim 05/07/19

The state is set to vote on whether to add depression and insomnia to the medical marijuana program's qualifying list of conditions.

Ohio doctor writing prescription for medical marijuana

A diagnosis of depression or insomnia may soon qualify Ohioans for the state’s medical marijuana program.

In June, state officials will vote on whether to add five more ailments to its list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana—anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, opioid use disorder, depression and insomnia. If they vote to add depression and insomnia to the list, Ohio would be the first state to do so.

Currently 33 states have established medical marijuana programs, with a different set of qualifying conditions for each state.

Ohio’s list includes rare conditions, the Cincinnati Enquirer notes, such as sickle cell disease, fibromyalgia and Tourette syndrome. Ohio is also currently the only state that allows marijuana for the treatment of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head trauma seen often in football players, boxers and military veterans.

Treating opioid use disorder with medical marijuana is already allowed in 4 states—Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Anxiety is a qualifying condition in New Jersey and West Virginia. Autism spectrum disorder is a qualifying condition in Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Utah.

Ohio approved medical marijuana in 2016 with 21 initial qualifying conditions that allow residents to obtain a medical marijuana card with a doctor’s recommendation. This is the first time since then that the State Medical Board has used its power to add to the list of qualifying conditions. The board will hold a final vote on adding the five conditions on June 12.

The Enquirer found that at least 3.5 million Ohioans suffer from at least one of the 21 qualifying conditions on its current list. If all five conditions are approved by the State Medical Board in June, the number of Ohioans eligible for a medical marijuana card will nearly double.

The Enquirer’s report emphasized that there is little clinical research on marijuana “since the federal government considers marijuana as dangerous as heroin”—i.e., as long as marijuana remains in Schedule I, a category of drugs defined as having no medical value and a high potential for abuse, it will remain difficult to conduct research on it.

It seems inevitable that this will change, however. Ten states have decided to legalize marijuana for not only medical use, but recreational use as well. The state of Illinois may join them next. Governor J.B. Pritzker announced plans to legalize marijuana on Saturday (May 4).

And last week it was reported that Harvard and MIT alumnus Charles R. Broderick donated $9 million to both schools to study cannabis—the largest  donation ever to fund independent marijuana research.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr