The State Medical Board of Ohio is tasked with listing the conditions that can legally be treated with medical cannabis under Ohio’s medical marijuana law. On September 11, 2019, the Board voted against approving medical marijuana to treat autism and anxiety. This was despite the petitions submitted by parents who are convinced by some studies and anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana may hold hope for their autistic children. The Board’s justification? The lack of clinical trials of the treatment, which is still banned at the federal level as a Schedule 1 drug (a drug which Congress has determined holds no legitimate medical value.)

It’s a familiar Catch-22 for proponents of medical cannabis. The natural drug is illegal because it holds no value—but the clinical trials that could prove its efficacy are illegal to conduct.

Ohio Cannabis and Hemp Chamber of Commerce co-founder Tim Johnson is tired of the argument, and told the Columbus Dispatch, “It can be done with a simple amendment.” He was one of many concerned citizens and several pro-cannabis groups protesting outside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus as the medical board voted.

[Johnson] said he’s already met with lawmakers but declined to say who until legislation is drafted. In the meantime, Johnson said patients with autism and anxiety don’t have access to medication that can help them….


Research on the effect of marijuana on humans is limited because the drug remains illegal at the federal level, and without comprehensive studies, the medical board is unlikely to expand the list of qualifying conditions, which currently includes 21 ailments such as chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Tim Johnson, co-founder of the Ohio Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, an advocacy group that supports legalized cannabis, said he’s focusing on the state legislature for that reason.

As the Dispatch noted, medical cannabis is already approved as a treatment for autism in 22 states. The natural remedy is approved to treat anxiety in 10 states.

Supporters say that parents in those states have seen the cognitive functions of autistic children improve with medicinal cannabis, and that marijuana is less harmful than anxiety medications.


But before the medical board vote on Sept. 11, its members cited a lack of comprehensive research on the subject and concerns about the harmful effect of marijuana on the developing brain.

Read more: Proponents of medical marijuana for autism, anxiety take fight to legislature