The Ohio House Health Committee on Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill that would add autism spectrum disorder to the state’s medical cannabis qualifying conditions list, Cleveland.com reports. The legislation moves next to the House Rules and Reference Committee which will decide whether to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
The proposal includes 16 co-sponsors from both parties. In 2020 and 2021, the State Medical Board rejected applications to add the condition as a qualifying condition to access medical cannabis in the state. Seventeen other states include the condition on their qualifying conditions list.
Raymond Chandler III, a 36-year-old who is on the spectrum, testified to the committee Tuesday that as a child, he had to take as many as 14 psychotropic pills to treat his autism. He said he currently uses medical cannabis for unrelated chronic pain but it also helps his autism.
“I ask you, does pumping a kid full of pills in this way sound like medicine to you? Because, it sounds a lot like abuse to me. It certainly felt like abuse to me when I was the 10-year-old getting pumped full of pills. Of the countless pills I was fed as a child, I never once believed or felt that it helped me.” — Chandler III to Cleveland.com
Carrie Beebe Taylor, who has twin sons who are on the spectrum and have severe learning disabilities and speech delays, testified that parents and children in states that allow medical cannabis for autism have “incredible breakthroughs,” while “Ohio families are left behind.”
The only person to testify against the proposal was Dr. Anup Patel, a board-certified neurologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital who along with his colleagues also submitted a letter to the State Medical Board when they were considering the petition to add autism.
In that letter, the physicians state that research on cannabis for children doesn’t meet the “gold standard” of medical research.
“The development of pharmacological agents typically involves several rigorous steps, including several pre-clinical, clinical and post-clinical studies across multiple phases before consideration by the FDA for approval in clinical use,” the letter states. “While we strongly support research and development of pharmaceutical cannabinoids and THC products for the treatment of chronic debilitating conditions, interpreting current research as indicative of clinical effectiveness and safety of cannabis in treating conditions such as autism and anxiety disorders are concerning and raises several medical, ethical and legal questions.”