ALBANY — The New York State Department of Health announced Thursday that any condition for which an opioid could be prescribed is a qualifying condition to receive medical marijuana.

Officials said the filing of emergency regulations meant that effective immediately, registered practitioners may certify patients to use medical marijuana as a replacement for opioids as long as a “precise underlying condition for which an opioid would otherwise be prescribed is stated on the patient’s certification.”

In addition, the regulation states those with opioid use disorder enrolled in a certified treatment program can use medical marijuana as an opioid replacement.

State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker announced in June that the Department of Health was developing these regulations.

“Medical marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment for pain that may also reduce the chance of opioid dependence,” Zucker said. “Adding opioid replacement as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana offers providers another treatment option, which is a critical step in combating the deadly opioid epidemic affecting people across the state.”

As of Tuesday, there are 62,256 certified patients and 1,735 registered practitioners participating in New York’s Medical Marijuana Program.

Opioid replacement joins the following 12 qualifying conditions under the state’s Medical Marijuana Program: cancer; HIV infection or AIDS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Parkinson's disease; multiple sclerosis; spinal cord injury with spasticity; epilepsy; inflammatory bowel disease; neuropathy; Huntington's disease; post-traumatic stress disorder; and chronic pain.

The permanent regulations will be published in the New York State Register on Aug. 1, and will be subject to a 60-day public comment period.

For more information on New York's Medical Marijuana Program, visit www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/.

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