In the USA the opioids crisis has truly hit the mainstream media, as well as the population. Opioid overdose deaths are now more likely than car accident fatalities.
With the introduction of opioid overdose reversal medication like Naloxone and Narcan injections a degree of carelessness about the dangers of overdose has even invaded lesser affluent areas in the country.
Last August the state of Illinois’ Governor Bruce Rainer signed the Alternative to Opioids Bill, which has come into force and active last Thursday, February 1, 2019.
The Opioids Alternative Pilot Program (OAPP) allows patients who have been prescribed opioids, or who would qualify for it, to opt instead for medical marijuana. While Illinois does have an active marijuana regulation since 2014, it is known as one of the strictest in the USA and qualification can can be slow.
The OAPP aims at speeding up enrollment, all by already allowing patients over the age of 21 to swap their opioids prescription for medical marijuana. Enrolled patients will benefit of a period of 90 days temporary access to MMJ, during which they can apply for long-term access. A $10 fee is required for registration to the 90-days program.
The program is an alternative, meaning that those who haven’t fully bought into to the benefits of medical marijuana can try it out, under their temporary access, without invalidating their opioids prescription. This allows those who didn’t experience the hope for benefits to revert to opioids treatment instead.
“Just half way through the first day of the launch and we’ve already seen a lot of interest and patients and physicians have successfully registered for the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program”
“We’re optimistic the program will benefit many Illinois residents and offer them an alternative for managing their pain.”
— Conny Meuller-Moody, OAPP Director Illinois Department Public Health to Rolling Stone
It is great to see that not only is medical marijuana use finding always more adoption, but there are politicians who also want to fight the chemicals procured by Big Pharma heads on. With a healthier and safer alternative.
That Illinois openly accepts that its medical marijuana system is flawed and stuffers from burocracy is one step. That the state tackles these problems proactively by making it easier to patients to enroll and to switch from highly addictive and unhealthy prescription drugs to medical marijuana without first having to go through the loops of the burocracy is all but commendable.
Hopefully many more states will follow and will not only proactively offer patients alternatives to opioids, but will also further adopt and where needed ease access to medical marijuana use.