Senate Initiative Allowing Medical Marijuana to Be Used as an Alternative to Opioids Now Incorporated Into State Health Regulations

July 12, 2018

The New York State Senate today announced that an initiative spearheaded by Senator George Amedore (R-C-I, Rotterdam) is now in effect to help reduce opioid abuse throughout the state. 

Under New York State’s Compassionate Care Act, which went into effect in January 2016, medical marijuana can be used for the treatment of debilitating diseases, or conditions that cause chronic pain. In June, the Senate and Assembly passed Senator Amedore’s bill , S8987A , to allow the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of substance use disorder or as an alternative to opioids for the treatment of pain. The State Health Department adopted new regulations, which go into effect today, to add opioid replacement as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana and allow those with substance use disorder to use medical marijuana as an opioid replacement. 

Senator Amedore, Co-Chair of the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, said, “Prescribers and patients must have every resource at their disposal, particularly when it comes to addressing the heroin and opioid epidemic that is devastating our communities. I’m glad to see the Department of Health enact these regulations because it will help patients that are high risk or who have struggled to overcome addiction, it will reduce the use of highly addictive opioids, and most importantly, it will save lives.” 

Senator Kemp Hannon, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said, “New York continues to struggle with the opioid addiction crisis. Death tolls continue to rise, despite our best efforts to stem the tide of opioid deaths through education, prevention, and treatment measures. Senator Amedore’s legislation and these regulations will not only save lives, but increase quality of life.” 

The bill - which not only ensures alternatives to opioids to prevent addiction but takes additional steps beyond the state’s regulations to help treat existing opioid addiction - will be sent to the Governor’s office. 

Senators Involved