New measures are underway in the USA in the battle with the opioids’ addictions. The state of Colorado has chosen to allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana instead of different painkillers. Governor Jared Polis signed the legislation bill at the end of May, but the law will go into effect on 2nd of August this year.
This new regulation has been met with mixed reactions in Colorado and in the US. The current legislation allows the use of medical marijuana for a set list of medical conditions – cancer, HIV and AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder to name a few – all of which are chronic disorders causing severe pain, nausea and sometimes seizures. With the new rules physicians can offer their patients to take marijuana instead of the opioids they have been taking. Governor Polis explained after the signing, that this decision has been made due to the rising number of drug overdoses with fatal consequences across the state, with “opioids contributing to over half those deaths”. Medical cannabis proponents from all over the US praised the change, explaining that this is useful for both doctors and patients. On the other hand, some experts voiced their concern, that the highly regulated opioids are now being replaced by treatment, which is in its core unregulated. While may be some further legislation is needed, the data from the National Institute of Drug Abuse clearly shows that opioid overdose causes the death of thousands of people. For instance, in 2017 more than 47 000 Americans lost their lives as a result of overdose, and the numbers are growing.
The lawmakers in Colorado are clearly familiar with the statistics and the medical marijuana debates. Only two senators voted against the new legislation, while the House showed most Democrats and a few Republicans supporting the change. Governor Polis himself noted, that their job is “to provide physicians with opportunities to discuss alternatives to opioids and provide patients with choices, even if additional research regarding medical marijuana is necessary.”
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