Illinois Lawmakers Consider Allowing Medical Marijuana as Opioid Alternative

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois lawmakers have provide you with an uncommon answer to fight its opioid disaster: permitting docs to prescribe medical hashish as an alternative of opiates as a solution to curb a rising epidemic.

Doctors might select to briefly prescribe hashish for sufferers that suffer from circumstances historically handled with opioids. The plan, which is on the governor’s desk, is supposed to deal with a rising opioid disaster within the state: 11,000 individuals have died from opioid-related overdoses since 2008, in line with the Illinois Department of Public Health. In 2016, opioid deaths have been almost double the variety of deadly automotive crashes.

“This is a compassionate and commonsense approach to dealing with something we universally acknowledge is a problem,” stated Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat who championed the laws within the Illinois House. “Opioid addiction is ravaging communities.”

Cassidy added that this system is aimed toward stopping extra Illinoisans from turning into hooked on opioids by as an alternative providing an alternate, “non-addictive treatment” for short-term circumstances.
If carried out, this system can be distinctive, in response to nationwide hashish specialists, and would increase Illinois’ anemic medical marijuana market 10 occasions over.

Kris Krane, former affiliate director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, stated that this system would “put a real dent in the opioid crisis,” and will usher in badly wanted income to a state drowning in billions of dollars of debt.

“There would be a tremendous benefit to the state from an expansion in terms of jobs and the taxes that comes along with an industry expanding by more than 10 times the current size,” stated Krane, who’s president of 4Front, a medical hashish advisor firm that additionally operates marijuana dispensaries in a number of states.

The plan additionally eliminates some limitations to entry of the state’s restrictive medical marijuana program. It would take away necessities that sufferers bear background checks and fingerprint scans, which critics argue disproportionately prevents lower-income and minority communities from acquiring the drug.

“Drug law enforcement takes place more vigorously in lower income communities and communities of color,” Krane stated, including that those that would profit from medical hashish typically can’t entry it if they’ve prior convictions. Many of these convictions, he stated, are for marijuana possession.

While the plan was overwhelmingly bipartisan, it might run into hassle with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has resisted expanded entry to medical hashish and enacted the restrictive program again in 2015. The governor’s spokeswoman, Rachel Bold, didn’t instantly reject the thought when it handed the Senate in April, saying that Rauner is taking a look at “any and all possible solutions” to the opioid disaster.

That reply got here solely two months after the Rauner administration determined to attraction a circuit courtroom choice ordering the state to broaden entry to the drug for these recognized with continual ache, a situation generally handled with opioids.

The proposed program is predicted to offer these with persistent ache entry to medical marijuana no less than briefly, which might show a workaround to the governor’s courtroom battle.

For state Sen. Don Harmon, who sponsored the laws within the Senate, the state wants each software obtainable to struggle a rising public well being disaster.

“Opioid addiction takes the lives of thousands of Illinoisans every year,” stated the Oak Park Democrat. “We should be open to any reasonable alternative treatment — and no one has ever died of a cannabis overdose.”

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