Nearly a month after the State Medical Board of Ohio delayed a decision on whether or not to approve medical marijuana’s use in lessening symptoms of autism and anxiety on the scheduled day of the vote, the decision has again been tabled as the board seeks further expert opinion.
The matter will go before a subcommittee again on Aug. 14, then will be tentatively up for vote a third time in the second week of September.
According to Cleveland.com, the board will contract with experts at Columbus-based Nationwide Children’s Hospital, as well as personnel from agencies in other states who are familiar with the conditions.
The hospital had expressed concerns about the petition to add the conditions to those treatable with marijuana in Ohio last month, citing a lack of “rigorous evidence” of benefits. A letter from the hospital, new membership on the board and the relative permanency of adding a condition were cited as factors in the delay.
The effort, however, received recommendation for approval after the first subcommittee review in May.
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.
Autism symptoms include inability to communicate or socialize; aggressive and self-injurious behaviors; lack of understanding of concepts like time, danger and rules; obsessive repetition; gastro-intestinal issues; anxiety; sleep conditions; and seizures.
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.
If approved, autism and anxiety would join 21 other conditions approved for marijuana treatment in Ohio.
Bryanite Tiffany Carwile is the head of of the Ohio chapter of Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism. Earlier this year, she submitted a large collection of information to the board in support of the initiative.
In part due to her organization’s efforts, autism became one of just two conditions considered seriously out of 110 initial applications.
Carwile is the mother of a young, autistic son, Jaxsyn, and her efforts have been detailed in multiple stories in The Bryan Times.