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Cuomo signs bill allowing medical marijuana to be used for pain management

Posted 24 September 2018 at 4:37 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S8987A/A 11011-B) that adds acute pain management to the list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be recommended as an alternative to opioid use.

The bill will also allow for substance use disorder treatment providers to recommend medical marijuana to help patients manage underlying pain that contributes to the abuse of substances such as opioids.

“In this battle against the opioid epidemic, it is critical that we use every means at our disposal to prevent the unnecessary prescription of these dangerous and addictive painkillers,” Governor Cuomo said. “Adding these conditions to the list of those approved for management with medical marijuana will help reduce the risk of addiction and provide suffering New Yorkers the relief they need.”

The bill will formalize into law the regulatory change that was implemented by the Department of Health earlier this year that added opioid replacement and opioid use disorder to the existing list of conditions for which a patient can qualify for medical marijuana.

In order to recommend medical marijuana for pain management, a registered practitioner must determine that the patient’s pain degrades health and functional capability, along with certain other requirements.

“As the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction travelled the state, this was a big gap that we heard about over and over,” said Senator George Amedore, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. “When we look at solutions to help us combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, we must ensure prescribers and patients have every resource and option at their disposal. I’m glad the Governor has signed this legislation that will help patients and provide an alternative to highly addictive opioids.”

Assembly Health Committee chairman and bill sponsor Richard N. Gottfried said, “Opioid addiction does not discriminate, impacting New Yorkers of all ages, genders, and races. Evidence from across the country shows that access to medical marijuana for pain treatment reduces the use of far more dangerous opioids. Medical marijuana is a safe and effective alternative for treating pain. I commend the Governor for signing the bill and will continue working to expand access to medical marijuana for patients in need.”

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