Maine could become the first U.S. state to approve medical cannabis as a treatment for opioid addiction.
A group of medical marijuana patients and caregivers gathered on Tuesday at a public hearing to lobby for the change, CBS News reports. The hearing was ripe with personal stories of how cannabis has been a safe and effective method of kicking more dangerous drug habits, such as pharmaceutical painkillers or heroin.
One 23-year-old student said marijuana helped her kick a heroin habit that she developed while studying in Morocco. “Marijuana saved my life for sure,” she said.
Supporters argued that medical cannabis is already prescribed to help with addiction in states with more relaxed marijuana laws, such as California and Massachusetts — but this would be the first time that state laws would be updated to specifically allow for such treatment.
The hearing was called by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services after a successful petition from one of Maine’s medical cannabis caregivers.
The medical establishment in Maine does not support changing the law, however, and argues that there’s insufficient scientific evidence supporting the claims that cannabis can treat addiction. Leah Bauer, psychiatrist and medical director for the Addiction Resource Center at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, argued that such a change could lead addicts to another “toxic and habit-forming substance.”
“In fact, [addicts] using marijuana may be like pouring gasoline on the fire,” she said.
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