New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Allows Medical Cannabis as an Alternative to Opioids

As of Monday 9/24, New York governor Andrew Cuomo passed a bill that officially recognizes medical cannabis as a legitimate medical substitute for pain management, a field dominated until this day by opioid drugs.

The New York Department of Health had recently updated the list of qualifying conditions that call for a cannabis prescription, adding opioid addiction into the mix. The passing of this bill allows the users to bypass addictive prescription drugs altogether, allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana directly to their patients.

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…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,Gov. Cuomo said.

A Change of Heart

Although Andrew Cuomo was a staunch opponent of recreational cannabis until very recently, it seems like the primary race with pro-cannabis candidate Cynthia Nixon pushed the governor in the right direction. Even though the current governor has referred to cannabis as a gateway drug in the past, his administration is reportedly drafting a legislative framework for adult-use marijuana in the state of NY.

Linda Rosenthal, chair of the assembly committee on alcohol and drug abuse said in a statement: “By adding substance-use disorder and pain management to the list of conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana, we will be allowing New Yorkers to take advantage of a harm reduction technique that can be used as an alternative to highly addictive opioids.”

According to a press release, a medical cannabis prescription can only be issued by a doctor if the pain experienced by the patient degrades their health and functional capability. Other conditions which were deemed treatable for medical cannabis were chronic pain and PTSD.