New York Agrees New Rule For Medical Marijuana To Be Used As Opioid Alternative

The New York State Department of Health has announced the filing of emergency regulations adding any condition for which an opioid could be prescribed as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

The regulations went into immediate effect from the 12th July 2018.  Registered practitioners may certify patients to use medical marijuana as a replacement for opioids, provided that the precise underlying condition for which an opioid would otherwise be prescribed is stated on the patient’s certification. 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.

Plans to add opioid replacement as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana were first announced last month.

“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.”

Opioid replacement is growing

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.

Improving Patient Outcomes

These emergency regulations went into effect on a temporary basis on July 12, 2018. 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.

Other recent enhancements to New York’s Medical Marijuana Program include adopting new regulations to improve the program for patients, practitioners and registered organizations. This includes authorizing five additional registered organizations to manufacture and dispense medical marijuana.  It also adds chronic pain and PTSD as qualifying conditions; permitting home delivery; and empowering nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients.

As of July 10, 2018, there are 62,256 certified patients and 1,735 registered practitioners participating in the program.

This news follows ongoing developments around the world recognising the benefits of marijuana for medical use.