The use of opioid pain relievers has increased dramatically since the 1990s when healthcare providers began prescribing them more often on the assurance of pharmaceutical companies’ promises that the drugs were non-addictive.
In 2019, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than 130 people die in the United States each day from opioid overdoses
There were more than 47,000 opioid deaths in 2017 alone.
But with the growing number of states with legal cannabis, many people have found an effective substitute for opioids in the form of medicinal marijuana, evidenced by a study published in February of 2019, Medical Marijuana Laws and Their Effect on Opioid Related Mortality, which showed that opioid-related mortality rates are lower in places where there are legal dispensaries.
On Thursday, Colorado governor, Jared Polis signed SB13, a bipartisan bill to allow doctors to recommend cannabis to anyone with a condition where an opioid might normally be prescribed.
The bill passed the House with a 47-16 vote on April 30 and a 33-2 vote in the Senate the next day before being sent to Governor Polis on May 16.
Under SB13, patients under the age of 18 are eligible for a recommendation to substitute medicinal cannabis for opioids, though they must use an ingestible form while on school grounds, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event.
With the signing of SB13, Colorado joins states like Illinois and New York where similar legislation and emergency regulations allowing the substitution of cannabis in place of opioids were enacted in 2018.
SB13 is scheduled to go into effect on August 2.