Physician Board Rules Against Adding Opioid Withdrawal As Condition For Medical Marijuana
A board of physicians that acts as gatekeeper to the state’s medical marijuana program rejected a proposal on Monday to add opioid use disorder and withdrawal as a qualifying condition, scrapping one of the country’s first attempts to combat opioid abuse with cannabis and dealing a blow to patients who say the drug blunts withdrawal symptoms.
The nine-person board, made up of Department of Consumer Protection commissioner Michelle Seagull and eight physicians, said that while cannabis anecdotally seemed to help some patients wean themselves from opioid painkillers, they could not disentangle the drug’s effect on withdrawal symptoms from its ability to relieve pain. Absent a larger discussion on whether to treat chronic pain with cannabis, the board ruled against adding opioid withdrawal as a condition that qualifies patients for a marijuana prescription.
Connecticut’s medical marijuana program today has 12 times the patients as when it began four years ago. While the increase is an index of its success, dispensary owners and patients say it has also caused shortages and inconsistencies that undermine the state’s goal of running a program as well-oiled…
Had it been approved, Connecticut would have been just the third state after New Jersey and Pennsylvania to sanction cannabis as a treatment for opioid addiction. But several board members said the research simply wasn’t there to support one of the more unorthodox proposals to fight the country’s runaway opioid crisis.
“In terms of curtailing cravings, we just don’t have the evidence,” said Jonathan Kost, director of Hartford Hospital’s pain treatment center. “It’s just too open; it’s just too unknown.”
Vincent Carlesi, a Stamford pain management specialist, said he’d seen some of his patients with other conditions qualifying them for medical marijuana use the drug to whittle down their opioid intake. But Carlesi