More states are taking steps to offer medical marijuana as a substitute to prescription opioids.
New York recently announced that it will make those who have been prescribed opioids eligible for medical marijuana. Meanwhile, Illinois lawmakers have sent a bill to Gov. Bruce Rauner that also would make anyone with a prescription for opioids eligible for its medical cannabis program as an opioid alternative.
The two states are ahead of others on the subject. In Colorado, for example, lawmakers have grappled with allowing medical marijuana for opioid alternative for abuse treatment. But they have failed to move the issue forward.
Other states, however, such as Pennsylvania, have been more willing to take a bite out of the opioid epidemic by offering alternatives. Those states have been moved by evidence, including the fact that states with medical cannabis laws saw 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids.
Legal marijuana states saw a nearly 6 percent drop in opioid prescriptions. In Minnesota, 63 percent reported reduced or eliminated opioid usage after six months of being in the medical marijuana program.
It is encouraging that additional states are moving forward, but there is still a huge hill to climb. If marijuana can help even in the slightest with combating the opioid epidemic then policymakers should do everything they can to expand access.