New Hampshire, along with 28 other states and the District of Columbia, allow the use of medical marijuana. But only certain chronic conditions are eligible for medical marijuana treatment, by a doctor’s prescription and with the issuance of a state identification card.
In New Hampshire, the number of qualifying conditions has grown since the authorization of medical marijuana in 2013. During the past legislative session, for example, legislators rewrote the law to allow medical marijuana for chronic pain and "severe pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects." Click here to see the full list of allowed conditions.
In no state can doctors write a one-off prescription for medical marijuana to treat pain. Prescription opioids -- such as Oxycontin -- are still the go-to drug for managing the pain arising from a surgical procedure, for example.
But prescription opioid drugs are seen as a major contributor to the addiction crisis in New Hampshire and across the country, an epidemic that President Donald Trump recently declared as a national emergency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2010 more than 14,000 people have been dying annually from overdosing on these prescription painkillers.
The study of medical marijuana as a substitute painkiller is currently being overseen by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and further research will be needed to get Food and Drug Administration authorization.
Proponents argue that medical marijuana can be used effectively to manage pain and is less addictive than opioids. They say it should be an alternative prescription painkiller even in those states that haven’t legalized the broad use of medical marijuana.
Opponents say that more widespread use of marijuana -- even marijuana used medically -- opens the door to the use of other drugs, thus threatening to expand the nation’s drug epidemic even more.
Should doctors be allowed to write painkiller prescriptions using medical marijuana instead of opioids?
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