New York formalizes medical cannabis as alternative to opioids; market boost seen

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation allowing medical marijuana to be used as an alternative to opioids, codifying a development that already has led to expansion of the state’s MMJ market.

The legislation formalizes into law emergency regulations implemented in July by the state’s health department.

In the ensuing two months alone, the number of certified patients in the state’s MMJ program has surged 18%, from 62,256 on July 10 to 73,417 as of Sept. 25.

Under the legislation, medical marijuana can be used as an alternative to opioids to manage acute pain as well as to treat opioid abuse.

New York has gradually expanded its MMJ program over the past two years, with the addition of chronic pain as a qualifying condition in November 2016 and post-traumatic stress disorder in November 2017.

Stronger growth of New York’s MMJ program has been hampered by a ban on sales of smokable marijuana and most forms of edibles.

But bigger changes could be coming: The state has started public meetings on the topic of legalizing adult-use marijuana, an issue the Democratic governor has warmed to after being a staunch opponent.
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