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Medical Board Defers Decision to Add New Conditions for Medical Marijuana Use

Published: Jun 14, 2019 by John Izzo

The State Medical Board of Ohio has a statutory duty to consider requests to add a disease or condition as a qualifying medical condition for the purposes of recommending medical cannabis. The Medical Board promulgated rules in September 2017 which listed the process that it must follow when requests are made.

Pursuant to Board process, no later than October 15 of each year, the Board shall designate a period during which petitions will be accepted in the next calendar year. The Board shall issue a written decision regarding these requests no later than 180 days after the acceptance period closes, unless it determines that good cause exists to allow an extension. Medical Board members established November 1, 2018 December 31, 2018 as the first submission period for petitions to add a qualifying medical condition to the Medical Marijuana Control Program. Therefore, it should issue a written decision no later than June 29, 2019.

The Board created a special committee to review the requests received last year. The number was eventually whittled down to five conditions: autism, anxiety, opioid use disorder, depression, and insomnia.

After several months of review by the committee and its hired experts, a decision was made to recommend adding autism and anxiety, but to reject opioid use disorder, depression, or insomnia. These recommendations were presented to the Board on June 12, 2019.

Surprisingly, Board president Michael Schottenstein, M.D., a psychiatrist from Bexley, Ohio, requested to table recommendations for the five conditions. Dr. Schottenstein noted the recent appointment of two new Board members who likely did not have sufficient time to review the two thousand plus pages of information from the committee. Dr. Schottenstein expressed a feeling that the Board was rushing into decisions and was worried about the impact of medical marijuana on mental health.

Dr. Schottenstein must not have trusted the work the committee did. The Cincinnati Enquirer quoted him saying he had a hard time considering medical marijuana for the proposed conditions, because he has real concerns about the drug. He wanted time to educate himself and hear from experts not contacted by the committee, to solidify his opinion or provoke second thoughts. Dr. Schottenstein did not say why he had not educated himself prior to the meeting. One of these second thoughts Dr. Schottenstein mentioned may be a reference to a letter from Nationwide Children’s Hospital dated June 4, 2019. No information was provided to indicate if Nationwide Children’s Hospital had any interaction with the committee.

Board member Betty Montgomery opposed tabling all five petitions, and thought the Board should vote down the three petitions that did not receive support from the special committee. Depression and insomnia were rejected without comment. Dr. Schottenstein opined that medical marijuana for opioid use disorder was counterproductive and would be like throwing gasoline on a fire for these people.

It appears that the Board will consider anxiety and autism at its next scheduled meeting on July 10, 2019. Unless a special meeting is called before July 10, 2019, the Board’s motion to table the decision may be in direct violation of its rules. That is, unless the Board determines an extension was necessary for a good cause.

One must wonder what the Board considers a good cause, and why that term applies to them differently than it does to the licensees it regulates. Over five years ago, a physician facing discipline requested a continuance of his administrative hearing. His attorney withdrew from representation 32 days prior to the hearing, and never named or submitted an expert report, meaning the physician could not present expert testimony at the hearing. When his new attorney, just two weeks later asked for a short continuance, the Board denied his request. Once the matter made its way into court, the case was sent back for a new hearing. See Demint v. State Medical Board of Ohio (Franklin Co. CP No. 13CV4850 decided August 8, 2013).

If you have any questions about the Medical Board, any license which they issue, or the Medical Marijuana Control Program, you should consider contacting an Ohio medical license defense attorney at Graff & McGovern. John Izzo can be reached at (614) 228-5800, extension 5, or