By Benjie Cooper
YouTube: Lucid’s Vlog
Opioid deaths in the United States have been on a steady climb since the late 1990s with a dramatic increase occurring around 2013. But in states where medical or recreational cannabis is available, there has been a noticeable decrease in opioid overdose fatalities.
The reduction in deaths is a trend that has not gone unnoticed by the New York Health Department which has announced its filing of emergency regulations to allow patients with opioid prescriptions to opt for medical marijuana instead. Additionally, the ordinance will enable people undergoing treatment for opioid addiction to qualify to use cannabis as a replacement.
“The opioid epidemic in New York State is an unprecedented crisis, and it is critical to ensure that providers have as many options as possible to treat patients in the most effective way,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in a statement. “As research indicates that marijuana can reduce the use of opioids, adding opioid use as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana has the potential to help save countless lives across the state.”
Opioid substitution will be added to a list of twelve other conditions that allow people to enroll in the state’s medicinal cannabis program including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, PTSD, epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, spinal cord injury with spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, neuropathy, and cancer.
The New York medical marijuana program has more than 62,000 patients enrolled, and 1,735 practitioners are certified to recommend cannabis for qualifying conditions.
Chart: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Image: New York State Department of Health