Colorado is attempting to help tamper down the opioid crisis by enabling doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition meriting a painkiller prescription.
Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 13 on Thursday, and the new law is scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 2, after passing through Colorado’s General Assembly.
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“This will substitute marijuana for an injectable medicine — something that is unregulated for something that’s highly controlled,” Stephanie Stewart, a doctor in Colorado says.
Under Colorado law, medical marijuana can be advocated for individuals struggling with cancer, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS, PTSD or other chronic ailments that cause severe pain, nausea and seizures. The new law includes all conditions where opioids could be prescribed.
The bipartisan legislation is a triumph for marijuana backers, but it raises issues with some addiction-centric caregivers.
“Our real concern is that a patient could visit a physician with a condition that has a medical treatment with signs behind it, and then instead of that therapy, they would be recommended marijuana instead,” explained Stephanie Stewart, a doctor in Colorado.
Backers of the law say it is a safer form of therapy which will help restrict the opioid craze, which is now at epidemic rates in the U.S. As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every day more than 130 people die after overdosing on opioids.
“Adding a condition for which a physician could recommend medical marijuana instead of an opioid is a more powerful pain management tool that will be useful for both our physicians and patients,” explained Ashley Weber, executive director of Colorado NORML, a pro-marijuana advocacy group.
Individuals under the age of 18 who take medical marijuana should ingest it in an edible form if using it on school grounds or transportation.
The House voted 47-16 in favor of the bill, with many Democrats and a few Republicans behind it. The Senate voted 33-2, with just conservative Senators. John Cooke, R-Greeley, and Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, in opposition.
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