The Department of Health in New York state has changed its laws to allow opioid prescription replacement and painkiller abuse as qualifying conditions for patients to legally receive cannabis.
These new rules, which are effective immediately, were pushed by New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.
“Medical marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment for pain that may also reduce the chance of opioid dependence,” Dr. Zucker said in a press release.
“Adding opioid replacement as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana offers providers another treatment option, which is a critical step in combating the deadly opioid epidemic affecting people across the state.”
This is a monumental step for cannabis activists and patients across the country. Despite the growing evidence that cannabis is a near-perfect replacement for dangerous opioid painkillers, it still has not been rolled out as a direct replacement in most states.
Earlier this year, a similar bill was shot down in Colorado by the state legislature despite it having one of the largest recreational cannabis markets in the country. In Illinois, a bill that would effectively make any opioid prescription an automatic medical marijuana recommendation has been sitting on the Governor’s desk for months.