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New York State Department of Health will allow medical cannabis as substitute for opioids

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New York State Department of Health will allow medical cannabis as substitute for opioids

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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On July 12, medical cannabis patients in “The Big Apple” rejoiced as the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) announced it would permit cannabis prescriptions for the replacement of opioids.

This could potentially help tackle the opioid epidemic.

According to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics, 42,249 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2016 alone. A staggering 66 percent of those people died as a result of using opioids.

The NYSDOH made the declaration about New York’s medical cannabis program just a month after it publicly revealed its notion to completely remodel the qualifications for medical cannabis use. Its new policy was adopted after emergency regulations were filed by the state.

New York’s medical cannabis program has gone into effect the start of July, the number of New Yorkers who qualified for medical cannabis was significantly lower than it is now. The NYSDOH has given opioid users the go-ahead to procure medicinal cannabis-based treatments for relief from problems like chronic pain.

Unlike opioids, cannabis is not addictive. There have been no reported fatal overdoses of cannabis; the same cannot be said for opioids.

Opioid users who access their medication using an over-the-counter prescription are at risk of becoming opioid dependent. By permitting cannabis as an alternative, the NYSDOH could overcome problems with opioid misuse and abuse, all the while ensuring patients are medicated in a safe and controlled way.

Could New York’s expanded qualifying medical cannabis conditions reduce opioid misuse? NYSDOH is introducing the latest service to its Compassionate Care Act with the goal of increasing access to medical cannabis within the state, as well as to deal with opioid prescription abuse.

The Department of Health’s rule change was publicized by State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. He disclosed his desires to aid people to “hopefully come off prescription opioids.”

Cannabis has been spotlighted in studies to prove its efficacy in treating chronic pain, not to mention other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer-related nausea, anxiety, and epilepsy.

New York DOH wants to slash opioid use by providing access to medical cannabis

Rewind a couple of months back and it would have been a bit of a struggle to obtain a health practitioner’s recommendation for medical cannabis in New York. Now, thanks to the state’s latest policy revisions, doctors can legally prescribe plant-based medications for chronic pain.

Commonly prescribed pain-relieving opioids include Fentanyl, Oxycodone and Vicodin. Drugs like these can produce unwanted side effects and in certain cases, may cause dependency.

Just after the state’s new policy went into effect, over 62,000 people had already signed up for New York’s medical cannabis program. Now that the NYSDOH will permit medical cannabis in New York for people with qualifying conditions, healthcare practitioners will likely notice a reduction in opioid use.

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New York State Department of Health will allow medical cannabis as substitute for opioids