New York plans to allow medical cannabis as opioid substitute

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One of the more restrictive medical marijuana programs in the United States might soon allow the use of MMJ as an alternative to opioids, a move that could provide a much-needed boost to the state’s cannabis businesses.

The New York health department plans to develop regulations giving people the choice of enrolling in the state’s medical cannabis program if they have been prescribed opioids, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said Monday.

Details are still being worked out, but Zucker’s agency cited research showing marijuana can reduce opioid use while eliminating the risk of overdose and reducing the risk of addiction.

New York’s program is restrictive for businesses in the sense that smokable marijuana is not allowed.

But regulators have tried to open up the market by adding qualifying conditions such as chronic pain and increasing the number of MMJ dispensaries.

New York’s announcement comes only weeks after Illinois lawmakers approved the use of MMJ as an alternative to opioids. The legislation is expected to soon land on the governor’s desk.

Though President Donald Trump calls the nation’s opioid epidemic a “public health emergency,” the White House’s commission on the opioid epidemic rejected medical marijuana as a national alternative to the highly criticized pain medication.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily