Opioid replacement now considered qualifying condition for medical marijuana in NYS


    Registered practitioners may allow patients to use medical marijuana as a replacement for opioids. (File WHAM photo)

    Opioid Replacement is now a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

    The New York State Department of Health made the announcement Thursday.

    Under the new rule, registered practitioners may allow patients to use medical marijuana as a replacement for opioids. The precise underlying condition for which an opioid would otherwise be prescribed must be stated on the patient's certification.

    For example, this allows patients with severe pain that doesn’t meet the definition of chronic pain to use medical marijuana as a replacement for opioids.

    In addition, the regulation adds opioid use disorder as an associated condition. This allows patients with opioid use disorder who are enrolled in a certified treatment program to use medical marijuana as an opioid replacement.

    “Medical marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment for pain that may also reduce the chance of opioid dependence,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “Adding opioid replacement as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana offers providers another treatment option, which is a critical step in combatting the deadly opioid epidemic affecting people across the state.”

    These emergency regulations went into effect on a temporary basis Thursday. The permanent regulations will be published in the New York State Register on August 1, 2018, and will be subject to a 60-day public comment period.

    Opioid replacement joins the following 12 qualifying conditions under the state’s Medical Marijuana Program: cancer; HIV infection or AIDS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Parkinson's disease; multiple sclerosis; spinal cord injury with spasticity; epilepsy; inflammatory bowel disease; neuropathy; Huntington's disease; post-traumatic stress disorder; and chronic pain.

    Within the next week, certified patients and designated caregivers will also be able to print temporary registry ID cards. This will allow them to purchase medical marijuana products more quickly after registering for the program. Prior to this enhancement to the Medical Marijuana Data Management System, it could take 7 to 10 days for patients and their caregivers to receive their registry identification cards after their registration was approved.


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