July 16, 2018, New York
A month ago, the New York Health Department announced that they would expand the MMJ program by adding new qualifying medical conditions to the list. Last week, the department declared that they had concluded some emergency regulations to put the revised policy into effect. The regulations went immediately into effect. It has enabled the state residents to replace their opioid prescriptions with medical cannabis.
With this MMJ overhaul, the number of potential medical cannabis users in the state can increase manifold. From July 12, any medical conditions for which doctors prescribe opioid would automatically be considered as a qualifying condition for MMJ use.
Aside from making medical cannabis as an alternative for opioid treatments, the new regulations have also expanded the definition of chronic pain, a prevalent qualifying condition of the program. Before the implementation of these emergency rules, several pain disorders were not covered by the definition of chronic pain established in the program.
This amendment could play a crucial role in dealing with the ongoing opioid crisis. Doctors often prescribe opioid-based treatments for pain management. Opioid prescriptions are one of the major contributing factors in the increased substance abuse of the drug. By including all types of debilitating pain disorders in the qualifying list, patients are now available with a harmless and non-addictive treatment protocol in the form of medical marijuana.
In the time period between 2013 and 2016, the opioid-related deaths in New York were increased by whopping 135 percent. In 2016, the state had two percent more opioid deaths than the nationwide average. New York Health Department is optimistic that the recent expansion will help in reducing the numbers of opioid prescriptions while strengthening the medical marijuana program of the state.
After epilepsy, chronic pain is the most pervasive qualifying conditions in all the states where medical cannabis has been legalized. Chronic pain is also one such medical condition for which opioid is mostly prescribed and used. So, the connection between opioid, cannabis and chronic pain is really perceptible. But unlike opioid, no case has ever reported where people using medical marijuana to treat their chronic pain have become addicted to its use.
In the next six months to a year’s time, we can actually come to know how allowing MMJ for all types of pain disorders would affect the use of opioid. The ongoing crisis has been recognized as a national emergency by the federal government and New York is the territory most affected by the disease. So, it was forthcoming that the state would take some radical measure to address the issue.
A Contradicting Australian Research Study
While the chronic pain has been part of nearly every statewide MMJ program in the country and many patients have reported the effectiveness of medical cannabis against the condition, a recent Australian research study has challenged this claim. Nevertheless, many studies on the effects of medical cannabis for chronic pain are still going on, so nothing conclusive can be said on the subject.
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