Opioid use is being added as a qualifying condition to get medical marijuana in New York State, the state health department announced Monday.
In a statement, state health leaders said marijuana can be “an effective treatment for pain” that is safer than opioid medications.
Officials say the studies have shown that states with medical marijuana available tend to have lower rates of opioid overdose deaths.
“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.”
The state health department says it is currently working to draft the amendment to the medical marijuana law. When the program began, medical marijuana was only available in a limited number of serious cases. But, in recent years, the health department has added conditions such as chronic pain and PTSD as qualifying conditions.
In Monroe County alone, there have been 68 overdose deaths so far this year an d 462 total overdoses.