For the second consecutive year, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is one of three conditions that has advanced to the next stage of the Ohio Medical Board’s consideration of treatment using medical marijuana.
Local advocate Tiffany Carwile, a mother whose child is on the autism spectrum, once again submitted her petition to the board at the end of 2019, adding further expert testimony and updated information from scientific studies to the submission to last year’s petition.
Autism will be considered alongside anxiety and cachexia, or wasting syndrome, which is a disease that can be a sign of such conditions as cancer, AIDS, heart failure or COPD, symptoms of which include weight loss, muscle loss, a lack of appetite, fatigue and decreased strength.
A board committee narrowed a list of 22 possible conditions to the three conditions now under closer review.
According to Cincinnati.com, several conditions put forth, such as chronic pain and HIV/AIDS, were already on the list of approved conditions while others lacked requirements such as research or support from physicians.
Finalists that were considered last year, including depression, insomnia and opioid use disorder, did not make the final cut in 2020, making autism the only condition that has reached this level of consideration in consecutive years.
The board will now consult with experts leading up to a June vote, also according to Cincinnati.com.
Comments can be emailed MedicalMarijuana@med.ohio.gov by March 1.
Last time around, the board collectively cited a lack of authority to restrict pediatric use and the permanency of such a decision as some of the main factors for the denial at that time. Cannabis is approved for pediatric use in Ohio for other conditions.
Several of the conditions already approved for treatment using marijuana can be found within the wide-ranging and variable diagnosis of ASD.
Approximately 44,000 Ohioans live with ASD diagnoses.
According to Ohio State University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Dr. Gary Wenk and Dr. Solomon Zaraa, a member of a northeast Ohio psychiatric practice called Compassionate Cleveland, evidence supports medical marijuana’s efficacy in treatment of autism.
A 2018 study by Stanford University showed deficit concentration levels of anandamide in children with autism. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid naturally produced in the brain that mimics THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — playing a role in learning, memory, social functioning, cognitive ability and easing anxiety.
Additionally, 80 percent of parents of children involved in a study funded by the U.S. government and completed at Soroka Medical Center in Israel reported moderate to significant improvement in autism symptoms from marijuana treatment, indicating marijuana “appears to be a well-tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms including seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and rage attacks,” the study states.
Fifteen U.S. states currently specifically allow for medical marijuana’s use in treatment of ASD.