A new bill was approved in Colorado that will allow medical practitioners to prescribe medical cannabis in place of harmful, addictive opiates and other painkillers.
Senate Bill 19-013 is bipartisan legislation that quickly passed in both the Colorado House of Representatives and the Senate, and was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis on May 23. The law is expected to go into effect on August 2 and is considered to be a major victory for cannabis advocates, even though some doctors are hesitant. “Our real concern is that a patient would go to a physician with a condition that has a medical treatment with evidence behind it, and then, instead of that treatment, they would be recommended marijuana instead,” said Stephanie Stewart, a physician in Aurora who cares for addicted patients, according to the The Denver Post. “This will substitute marijuana for an FDA-approved medication—something that’s unregulated for something that’s highly regulated.”
However, many cannabis advocates and business people feel that this bill will help to counteract opioid overdoses. “Even in states with flourishing, nonmedical cannabis markets, it is important to remember that thousands of people count on cannabis as a medicine,” said David Mangone with Americans for Safe Access. Additionally, Colorado NORML Executive Director Ashley Weber agreed that signing this bill will allow more patients access to cannabis as medicine. “Adding a condition for which a physician could recommend medical marijuana instead of an opioid is a safer pain management tool that will be useful for both our doctors and patients,” she said.
While this is definitely a major cannabis victory and a way to get medical cannabis into the hands of more folks who experience pain, as well as a major step for normalizing medical cannabis, the major end goal of both the cannabis advocates and the politicians is to lower opiate deaths and overdoses. It has already been proven that medical cannabis legalization lowers the amount of opioid overdoses and even celebrities with a history of drug addiction are now turning to CBD instead of pain pills.