Ohio’s still-young medical marijuana program saw its pool of active patients go up as summer wound down this year, according to new data.

Citing figures provided by the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, Cleveland.com reports that the “number of Ohio medical marijuana patients who have purchased products from state dispensaries increased by 3.4% between July and August.” 

By last month, according to the website, “103,642 patients were registered with the state and have bought the drug,” which amounts to less than one percent “of the state’s population of 11.7 million.”

“Seven hundred twenty-one registered medical marijuana patients had a terminal diagnosis in August, 9,267 were military veterans and 9,694 patients were low-income,” the report continued. 

Program Expansion

The growth in the number of medical marijuana patients in the Buckeye State comes on the heels of a modest expansion earlier this year to the list of qualifying conditions to receive a cannabis prescription in the state.

In April, Ohio’s medical board committee agreed to add cachexia, or wasting syndrome, to the list of qualifying conditions. Present in many forms of cancer, cachexia is defined by the National Cancer Institute as “a form of metabolic mutiny in which the body overzealously breaks down skeletal muscle and adipose tissue, which stores fat,” a devastating syndrome typified by “a dramatic loss of skeletal muscle mass and often accompanied by substantial weight loss.” 

But the Ohio medical board rejected appeals to add anxiety and autism to the list of qualifying conditions for which patients can receive a prescription. 

Some groups such as Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association urged the board to reject those conditions, arguing that it could have dangerous consequences for the youth.

“The inclusion of autism and anxiety as conditions has the potential to negatively impact the health and well being of thousands of children in Ohio,” Sarah Kincaid of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association said at the time. “There is little rigorous evidence that marijuana or its derivatives is of benefit for patients with autism and anxiety, but there is a substantial association between cannabis use and the onset or worsening of several psychiatric conditions.”

Cachexia joins a host of other conditions that do qualify patients in Ohio for such a prescription, including: AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.

Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016 when then-Governor John Kasich, a Republican, signed a bill into law, but the law didn’t take effect for another two years. And even today, as Cleveland.com noted in its report this week, the program is still incomplete.

“Of the 19 companies that received provisional licenses to run large-scale marijuana cultivation facilities, only 11 have received certificates of operation. Twelve of the 14 small-scale cultivators are up and running,” the report said.

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