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Medical Marijuana Might Hinder New York’s Opioid Epidemic

NY Marijuana Chronic Pain

New York is suffering a major opioid addiction crisis, and some believe that medical marijuana may be part of the solution to ending it. A New York paralegal, Judy Andino, stopped taking all of her opioid medications and only uses medical marijuana for her chronic pain and muscle spasms.

A new proposal, if approved, would allow chronic pain lasting at least three months to be added to the list of qualifying medical conditions, according to Crain’s New York.  If the proposal for chronic pain is approved, the New York medical marijuana program is likely to see a major boost in registrations.

In 2014, New York ranked 19th in heroin-related deaths and 34th in prescription opioid overdose deaths in the U.S.

Andino said, “It doesn’t take away my pain completely, but it’s given me the ability to deal with it and function.”

Dr. Kyle Kingsley said, “The main reason a lot of our team of professionals and physicians stepped into this realm was to fight the war on opioids. The inclusion of chronic pain allows us to directly fight opioids in New York.”

The public commentary period for the chronic pain inclusion ends on February 6. For patients to qualify for medical marijuana, suffering from chronic pain, they must have been unsuccessful with at least one other type of treatment or have bad side effects from prior treatment to qualify.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny agrees that medical marijuana should be an option for treating chronic pain. He said, “I do think it makes more sense to try patients on cannabis than opioids. And I do think that if we stop putting chronic-pain patients on long-term opioids and instead prescribe cannabis, that potentially will have a helpful effect in the long term on our opioid crisis.”

The cost of medical marijuana in New York is expensive. Patients hope that an increase in the patient base, which would occur if the chronic pain proposal is approved, would provide a large decrease in prices.