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Colorado Establishes Cannabis as Opioid Alternative

Under a bill signed into law last week in Colorado, doctors can now recommend medical cannabis to treat any condition for which they might have otherwise prescribed opioids.

Full story after the jump.

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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