NY: Medical Marijuana To Combat Opioid Epidemic

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The Senate Health Committee is scheduled to consider a bill this week that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in lieu of opioids in certain cases.

The legislation, which is sponsored by Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, is a response to the national opioid abuse crisis, according to the bill memorandum. New York has a limited number of conditions that can be treated using marijuana, but the list can be amended by the state Department of Health or with legislation.

“It is important that physicians have the ability to offer as many alternatives as possible to prescribing opioids for the management of pain and other conditions,” reads the bill memo.

The exception would apply to cases that would ordinarily require opioids for less than three months.

Amedore has served as the co-chair of the state Senate’s task force on opioid and heroin abuse since 2015.

Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, introduced a bill earlier this year that would add opioid use disorder to the list of conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana, but it has not moved in the Senate Health Committee.

Savino was the driving force in the state Senate behind the state’s adoption of a medical marijuana program.