Senate Passes Bill to Allow Medical Marijuana to be Used as an Alternative to Opioids

The New York State Senate today passed legislation (S8987A), sponsored by Senator George Amedore (R-C-I, Rotterdam), that would allow the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of substance use disorder or as an alternative to opioids for the treatment of pain.
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. This bill amends the public health law to allow for the use of medical marijuana to treat substance use disorder, or for the treatment of pain as an alternative to opioids.
“As we continue to look for ways to address the heroin and opioid epidemic, a critical piece is ensuring that prescribers and patients have every resource at their disposal,” said Senator Amedore, who co-Chairs the Senate’s Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction. “This legislation removes barriers and gaps that we heard about over and over as we travelled the state with the Task Force – it will help patients, reduce the number of highly addictive opioids in circulation, and ultimately, it will save lives.” 

“New York continues to struggle with the opioid addiction crisis,” said Senator Kemp Hannon, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee. “Death tolls continue to rise, despite our best efforts to stem the tide of opioid deaths through education, prevention, and treatment measures. Offering alternative methods for the treatment of pain will not only save lives, it will increase quality of life.”

The legislation was sent to the Assembly, where it is sponsored by the Chair of the Health Committee, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried.


Senators Involved