Ohio legislators this week approved a medical marijuana bill, which now goes to Governor John Kasich to be signed. Cancer, including malignant mesothelioma, is one of 21 conditions covered in the bill.
Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Bill
Despite the fact that derivatives of the marijuana plant, most notably cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrcannabinol (THC), have been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times, lawmakers around the country have been slow to legalize their use in the treatment of medical conditions like mesothelioma.
Legislators passed the bill this week in a close 18 to 15 vote, setting Ohio up to become the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. Shortly afterward, the group Ohioans for Medical Marijuana agreed to drop efforts to bring medical marijuana use to a public vote in November.
Under the bill, mesothelioma patients and others with cancer could buy and use marijuana at the recommendation of their physician. Patients would have access to marijuana’s active ingredients in oils, tinctures, and patches, but would not be allowed to grow their own or to smoke it.
Marijuana in Mesothelioma Treatment
Mesothelioma is a rare but highly lethal form of lung-related cancer that is caused, almost exclusively, by exposure to asbestos. There is no cure and the disease is resistant to conventional cancer treatments.
In an effort to find an alternative way to treat their mesothelioma or manage mesothelioma pain, a growing number of mesothelioma patients are turning to medical marijuana.
One of those patients is Californian Andy Ashcraft. Ashcraft, who was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2010, added cannabis oil to his mesothelioma therapy regimen after chemotherapy failed to stop the progression of his tumor. Ashcraft and his wife Ruth now credit his long mesothelioma survival, in part, to his daily use of cannabis oil.
“July 2014 was the last time I had chemotherapy,” Ashcraft told Surviving Mesothelioma in an April 2016 phone interview. “My oncologist calls me a mutant.”
Medicinal Marijuana May Not Be Easy for Mesothelioma Patients to Find
Even though mesothelioma patients in Ohio may be able to legally use medical marijuana beginning around September, that does not mean it will be easy for them to find it. If the governor signs the bill, the Ohio State Pharmacy Board will still have to write the rules for licensing dispensaries.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper estimates that it could take another two years for marijuana to be dispensed to mesothelioma patients and others who need it.
Other conditions covered under Ohio’s medical marijuana bill include HIV/AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, MS, Parkinson’s, severe or intractable pain, sickle cell anemia, PTSD, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury and ulcerative colitis.
Pennsylvania recently passed medical marijuana legislation. Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina have legislation or ballot measures pending this year.
Click here for a more in depth look at medical marijuana in the treatment of of mesothelioma.
Borchardt, Jackie, “Ohio lawmakers legaltzed medical marijuana. What happens next?”, May 27, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland.com