Opioid Addiction Could Be Added To NY Medical Marijuana Program

Medicinal cannabis as an opioid abuse treatment
Image: EmilianDanaila

New measures recently introduced to New York State’s House and Senate could result in opioid addiction being a qualifying condition for medical marijuana use.

In the Senate, amended legislation including opioid abuse disorder is being championed by Democrat Senator Diane Savino.

“Many addicts who have entered Rehab Treatment are using Medical Therapy to deal with it. Methadone has long been used to treat Heroin Addicts, and in recent years Suboxone and the monthly injection, Vivitrol have been added to the options for chronic users,” said Senator Diane Savino.

“As the Senate architect of the Medical Marijuana program, I am joining with Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell to add Addiction as a qualifying disease under our program and allowing Medical Marijuana to the list of Medical Therapy options. The more tools we have in our toolbox, the more successful we will be at fighting this problem.”

The Senate bill was sent to its Health Committee on January 25.

Ganjapreneur reports the House measure, sponsored by Democrat Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, was approved 21-1 by the Assembly Health Committee last week.

“I cannot continue to be a bystander of inaction and reluctance to lead while people are dying,” said Mr. O’Donnell. “The time for pilot programs and ad campaigns is long past. Immediate action is necessary. My bill A9016 would expand medical marijuana to treat those with opioid addiction. Let’s get this done.”

Opioid addiction is rife in North America, fuelling an escalating health crisis. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths involving prescription opioids in the USA were five times higher in 2016 than 1999, and sales of opioid prescription drugs had quadrupled during that period. More than 1,000 people are treated in the USA’s emergency departments each day for not using these medications as directed.

New York’s medical cannabis program has come a long way in a fairly short time. In November, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law for the use of medical cannabis in treating PTSD, extending the list to 12 conditions.

The Governor is also a supporter of industrial hemp. In July last year, he signed legislation to support New York State’s nascent industry; seeking to boost the state’s industrial hemp production nearly 6,000 percent.