An investigative news report that aired Wednesday on Cincinnati’s WLWT-TV brought the pros and cons of medical marijuana back into the spotlight, featuring the plight of a Highland County preschooler.
According to Channel 5 investigative reporter Todd Dykes, Scarlett Lewis and her 4-year old daughter Savannah moved to Colorado last year, where marijuana in all its forms is legal, including medical marijuana to treat the child’s severe epileptic seizures.
They have since moved back to Highland County for family reasons.
Dr. Trent Austin, a staff physician at AccuDoc Urgent Care in Harrison, Ohio, stated in the report that cannabis was the best option for Savannah, since she was unable to use 10 other medications prescribed for her seizures.
Lewis added in the televised interview that in her opinion, without the cannabis oil, her daughter would still be on multiple medications and sedated, which she said would have prevented her from learning to walk.
As previously reported in The Times-Gazette, a site has been approved for dispensing medical marijuana in Hillsboro and though no permit has been issued yet, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said that he believes that in some cases medical marijuana is beneficial, but still has some lingering concerns about its long term implications.
Warner said he personally knows people suffering with chronic disease and ongoing pain issues, and that there are some local physicians who are certified to write prescriptions for medical marijuana once the storefront location opens.
He said his office has been looking at a vast data base of information from other states involved in the medical marijuana discussion — Colorado in particular — to get an idea of the impact that it will have from the standpoint of medical legitimacy and eventually into full legalization, calling the whole issue “a complicated topic.”
Ohio’s medical marijuana law was passed in 2016 and signed by former Gov. John Kasich, and Warner said the law is very specific in that patients using medical marijuana must meet one of 21 qualifying conditions.
According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, the conditions are:
• Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
• Testing positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
• Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (repetitive brain trauma)
• Traumatic brain injury
• Crohn’s disease
• Epilepsy or another seizure disorder
• Hepatitis C
• Inflammatory bowel disease
• Multiple sclerosis
• Chronic, severe or intractable pain
• Parkinson’s disease
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Sickle cell anemia
• Spinal cord disease or injury
• Tourette’s syndrome
• Ulcerative colitis.
Warner said marijuana can be dispensed in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vapor, and that patients and their caregivers can possess up to a 90-day supply, but growing the plants at home or smoking it remains illegal under the Ohio Revised Code.
“Smoking it gives you a pretty immediate physical response,” he said. “There is a delay when ingesting it since your body may take almost half an hour to break it down and absorb it.”
Warner said that as the issue moves forward, both health and law enforcement officials need a good baseline of data to gauge how legalizing marijuana for medical and potential future recreational use will impact users in the short and long term.
The TV report quoted Dr. Austin as saying a case involving a child Savannah’s age was unusual in that most of his medical marijuana patients are 55 years of age and older and suffer from chronic pain, or are veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.