As the opioid crisis continues to ravage the United States, more and more people are looking to cannabis as a solution. In Connecticut, new proposals mean this state may add opioid withdrawal to medical marijuana program. The state Board of Physicians is considering this week whether to allow the use of cannabis for opiate withdrawal. The board could add four more serious medical conditions to list, as well.
Medical Cannabis in Connecticut
Currently, the state maintains two lists of health issues eligible for treatment with medical cannabis. Adult patients suffering from 22 conditions can make use of medical marijuana therapies. The list for patients under 18 includes six diseases.
Cancer, seizure disorders, HIV/AIDS and others are currently allowed under the program. Nearly 24,000 patients have qualified for the program, according to state records. More than 800 doctors have gained state approval to prescribe medical cannabis to patients.
The abuse of opioids has become the worst drug epidemic in the country’s history. The Centers for Disease Control announced that more 64,000 people died from an accidental overdose in 2016. Overdose is now the most common cause of death for those under the age of 50.
As more and more Americans succumb to the scourge of opioid addiction, people are looking to medical marijuana as a possible answer to the problem. Besides reducing symptoms of withdrawal, the use of medical marijuana to treat pain can reduce the need for opiates in the first place.
A study published in JAMA in 2014 revealed that states with medical marijuana programs had 25 percent fewer opioid deaths than states that didn’t.
Other Conditions Under Consideration
In addition to treating those suffering withdrawal from opioid addiction, the Board of Physicians is also considering four more conditions. Patients with albinism could be allowed to use cannabis to treat the genetic condition’s impact on eye health.
Patients with another eye condition, nystagmus, could also benefit from medical marijuana to calm uncontrollable eye movements associated with the disease.
A genetic disease known as osteogenesis imperfecta that causes bones to break easily could also be added to the state’s list. Progressive degenerative disc disease of the spine is under consideration for addition, as well. The condition causes severe neck or back pain.
Final Hit: This State May Add Opioid Withdrawal to Medical Marijuana Program
As the use of medical marijuana continues to gain acceptance, opiates could be beginning to lose favor at the same time. Last year, the FDA asked the maker of Opana ER to remove the drug from the US market. Opana ER is a brand name for the opioid painkiller oxymorphone.
The FDA decided the risks from the drug outweighed its benefits. It was the first time the FDA had removed an opioid from sale because of its risk of abuse. In the announcement of the action, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottleib hinted that it might not be the last.
“We will continue to take regulatory steps when we see situations where an opioid product’s risks outweigh its benefits, not only for its intended patient population but also in regard to its potential for misuse and abuse,” he said.