Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed a bill last week that will allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis for any condition for which they might have prescribed painkillers, The Denver Post reports.
Senate Bill 13 — which passed the Senate 33-2 and the House 47-16 — is set to take effect on August 2, 2019. The bill is aimed at reducing opioid overdose rates by using cannabis as a potential offramp for opioid addicts. Specifically, the bill “adds a condition for which a physician could prescribe an opiate to the list of disabling medical conditions that authorize a person to use medical marijuana for his or her condition.”
“Adding a condition for which a physician could recommend medical marijuana instead of an opioid is a safer pain management tool that will be useful for both our doctors and patients.” — Ashley Weber, executive director of Colorado NORML, via The Denver Post
The legislation was introduced at the start of the year and drew wide support from medical cannabis advocates. A legislative hearing in January included two-and-a-half hours of testimony from 40 individuals, mostly in favor of the bill.
Concerned medical professionals, however, voiced some opposition to the proposal.
“Our real concern is that a patient would go to a physician with a condition that has a medical treatment with evidence behind it, and then instead of that treatment, they would be recommended marijuana instead,” said Aurora-based physician Stephanie Stewart. “This will substitute marijuana for an FDA-approved medication — something that’s unregulated for something that’s highly regulated.”
Research, meanwhile, has indicated that states with established comprehensive medical cannabis programs see an overall reduction in opioid overdose rates.
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