N.Y. — New York is making it easier for patients who use prescription opioids to replace those painkillers with medical marijuana.
The state Health Department said it has filed emergency regulations that make any condition for which opioids are prescribed a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.
While chronic pain is considered a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, severe pain is not. The change means people prescribed opioids for severe pain can now replace those drugs with medical marijuana.
The regulation also allows people being treated for opioid addictions to use medical marijuana as a replacement.
“Medical marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment for pain that may also reduce the chance of opioid dependence,” Dr. Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner, said in a prepared statement.
Opioid replacement joins 12 conditions that qualify people in New York for medical marijuana. Those conditions include: cancer, HIV or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
There are more than 62,000 patients in New York certified to use medical marijuana and 1,735 providers registered to prescribe it.