Federal Funding Prohibited for Cannabis-Related Opioid Treatments

Federal officials at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have prohibited any federal funds meant to combat opioid addiction from being used on medical cannabis.

Full story after the jump.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is prohibiting federal funds meant for opioid addiction to be used on medical cannabis, the Associated Press reports. The move aims to prevent the federal grant money from being used for medical cannabis in states that allow its use as a treatment for opioid addiction.

Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for Mental Health and Substance Use, told the AP that there is “zero evidence” that cannabis works as an exit drug for opioids.

“We felt that it was time to make it clear we did not want individuals receiving funds for treatment services to be exposed to marijuana and somehow given the impression that it’s a treatment.” – McCance-Katz, to the AP

The new limitation applies to the federal government’s two main grant programs for opioid treatment along with another grant program that supports state alcoholism and drug addiction programs. Under the plan, grant money can’t be used directly or indirectly to buy, or allow treatment with, cannabis. The rule also applies to using cannabis as a treatment for mental health disorders; it does not impact other federal grants for medical cannabis research, the report says.

Just two states – Pennsylvania and New Mexico – include opioid addiction in their medical cannabis qualifying conditions lists.

Rachel Kostelac, spokesperson for Pennsylvania’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, told the AP that it’s too early to tell if the changes will affect care but state officials would “continue to monitor to ensure individuals are receiving appropriate treatment to combat the opioid epidemic.”

David Morgan, spokesperson for New Mexico’s Department of Health, said that no federal funds were currently being spent on medical cannabis-related treatment.

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