Could medical marijuana take the place of opioids for acute pain? Colorado may let doctors try it
The state Health Department says there isn’t evidence that marijuana is effective for short-term pain
April 27, 2018
Colorado lawmakers could allow doctors to recommend marijuana to treat acute but short-term pain, as part of a bill currently pending in the state Senate that its sponsors hope will help curb the opioid overdose epidemic.
The new bill, SB18-261, would allow doctors to write a medical-marijuana recommendation for any condition, "for which a physician could prescribe an opiate for pain." At the bill's first committee hearing Tuesday, supporters argued that recommending marijuana more broadly for pain could reduce the number of people who get hooked on opioids after being first exposed through a prescription.
"We've got nothing to lose and so much to gain," said Blair Hubbard, who said she is recovering from an addiction to opioids and heroin that began with pills she was prescribed when her wisdom teeth were taken out. "I'm tired of hearing of people dying or people sick in the hospital because of what we thought was an innocent introduction to pain medication."
The bill, if approved, would represent a notable expansion of the state's medical-marijuana law. Currently, there are nine medical conditions for which the state allows doctors to recommend marijuana — including severe pain. But all of them are defined in the law as debilitating or long-term conditions.