June 19, 2018, New York
New York has seen some substantial marijuana reforms in the last couple 0of months. In fact, last month, the NYC mayor directed the law-enforcement bodies to not arrest people with minor cannabis possessions. Now, the state is going to expand its MMJ program by adding opioid addiction to the list of qualifying medical conditions.
Patients with an opioid prescription can be enrolled in the program to use cannabis as an alternative. The department of health has also promised to improve the availability and access of MMJ products to patients.
Opioid Crisis Hits New York Really Hard
Experts are terming the decision very crucial in dealing with the epidemic that has engulfed the entire country. The crisis has hit New York particularly badly. The number of deaths due to opioid overdose is constantly increasing in the state. According to an investigative report, in four years (2013-2016), the opioid deaths have increased 135 percent.
In 2016, the mortality rate in connection with opioid was 15.1 percent in New York, approximately two percent more than the national average. So, it is quite apparent that the state is severely affected by opioid substance abuse.
This is the reason why the state’s health department has allowed patients with opioid prescriptions to use medical marijuana. New York health commissioner is hopeful that this provision will help in reducing the number of opioid prescriptions.
The Connection of Opioid, Chronic Pain, and Medical Marijuana
Chronic pain is one of the leading health concerns in the US. According to multiple reports, nearly one-third of the country’s adult population is suffering from chronic pains. Opioid-based drugs are known for their analgesic effect against chronic pains. However, with the regular use of opioid, the body develops a tolerance against the prescribed amount of opioids, leading to substance abuse and overdose.
On the other hand, cannabis’s two important constituents THC and CBD are known for their therapeutic effects against chronic pains without inflicting any adversarial side effects like opioids. For instance, cannabis doesn’t have a strong addictive characteristic like opioids.
Reverse Gateway Drug?
Many cannabis opponents consider the strain as a gateway drug. This means it facilitates people to move to consume more hard and deadly drugs. MMJ advocates have always contested this claim. In curbing opioid crisis, cannabis actually plays the opposite role because it can provide relief to people who are already suffering from opioid addiction.
Therefore, one can say that marijuana is, in fact, a reverse gateway drug used to treat deadly drug addictions.
A Rapid Expansion of MMJ Operations is Needed
New York got its MMJ program in 2014. Chronic pain was added to the list of qualifying conditions in 2016. However, the strain couldn’t help reduce the number of opioid prescriptions because of the general unavailability of the therapeutic strain.
While one can get opioid-based medicines from every pharmacy, MMJ products are only available in only 12 locations in the entire state. Therefore, it is necessary for the state to expand legalized MMJ operations too if it really wants to address the opioid crisis through the use of medical marijuana.