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Law Passed Allowing Doctors to Recommend Cannabis Instead of Opioids
Washington, DC — Governor Jared Polis has signed into law SB-013, a bill that allows Colorado physicians to authorize individuals to use medical cannabis instead of opioids, including for acute pain. The bill also removes specific specialist requirements for physicians for minor patients and allows minor patients to consume non-smokable forms of cannabis on school grounds. The law will go into effect on August 2, 2019.
A majority of states around the country allow medical cannabis to be used for chronic pain, but only a handful allow its use for acute pain or other conditions for which an opioid may be prescribed.
“Americans for Safe Access applauds Governor Polis for signing SB-013. Even in states with flourishing non-medical cannabis markets, it is important to remember that thousands of people count on cannabis as a medicine,” said David Mangone, Esq., ASA’s Director of Government Affairs. “Recognizing this, in 2017, ASA launched a national campaign called End Pain, Not Lives to promote cannabis as a tool to combat the opioid crisis, and it is great to see Colorado doing its part to reduce preventable opioid overdose deaths by allowing the substitution of cannabis for opioids in pain management."
According to the National Institutes of Health, over 130 individuals die each day due to opioid-related causes nationwide. In Colorado in 2017 (the most recent year for which data are available), there were 373 deaths involving prescription opioids and 224 involving heroin. Colorado joins Illinois and New York in allowing cannabis to be recommended by authorized healthcare providers for any condition for which an opioid would be appropriate.
“According to CDC, Colorado loses a community member to drug overdose roughly every 9 hours, with opioids contributing to over half those deaths,” said Cindy Sovine, Colorado ASA member and President of Sovine Consulting. “This bill is the result of a multi-year, multi-stakeholder effort brought forward to give Coloradans a safer option, keeping them alive and out of the cycle of addiction while meeting their pain management needs.”
Americans for Safe Access provided critical testimony in support of this bill in January.