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 that the drug be added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use in Ohio. But the board's 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 asks.
Taylor says her children cannot deal with everyday situations that healthy kids can manage. She says 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," Taylor says.
But Tessie Pollack, Director of Communications for the State Medical Board of Ohio, says 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," Pollack says.
But Mike Hartley, a Republican strategist who is the father of an autistic child, says 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?" Hartley asks.
Pollack says 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," Pollack says.
But those 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, John Fortney, says the Ohio Legislature would allow a state agency to make rules on what should be on or off the list.