Why New York allowed medical marijuana as substitute to prescribed opioid painkillers

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New York’s medical marijuana program was a boom for lobbyists firms. Yet 17,000 patients out of 200,000 that are eligible have been certified for the program, lohud’s David Robinson reports. Ricky Flores/lohud

Indiana NORML posted a billboard on I-70, touting medical marijuana as a solution to the opioid epidemic.(Photo: Provided by Jack Cain, communications director of NORML)

New York has allowed medical marijuana as a substitute to prescribed opioids after intense marketing, advertising and lobbying efforts targeted the issue across the country.

Public health leaders in New York recently announced the new medical marijuana policy as billboards, grassroots activism and governmental lobbying for years promoted cannabis-based drugs as an alternative to opioid painkillers like Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet.

Governmental actions buying into the marijuana movement come despite limited American scientific research on medical marijuana, a key reason many doctors have been reluctant to register for New York’s program.

Ongoing studies, including a $3.8 million project at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System in the Bronx, seek to determine if medical marijuana reduces opioid use, The Journal News/lohud has reported.

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Meanwhile, opioid use joins 12 other qualifying conditions under the state’s medical marijuana program.

“The opioid epidemic in New York State is an unprecedented crisis, and it is critical to ensure that providers have as many options as possible to treat patients in the most effective way,” said state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, announcing the expansion.

“As research indicates that marijuana can reduce

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