June 25, 2018

CT panel not yet ready to recommend pot for opioid addiction

PHOTO | Theraplant LLC
PHOTO | Theraplant LLC
Medical marijuana.

More research surrounding opioid addiction is needed before the disease is added as a medical condition through the state's medical marijuana program, state officials said.

Connecticut's Board of Physicians, operating within the state Department of Consumer Protection, said it voted Monday to not recommend opioid use disorder/opiate withdrawal on the list of conditions aided by the medical pot program. Meantime, the board updated progressive degenerative disc disease of the spine on the list.

At Monday's public hearing, the board recommended chronic neuropathic pain associated with degenerative spinal disorders for adults to the treatment list, officials said. The condition must now receive approval from state regulators.

For now, there are 22 conditions that may qualify adults for Connecticut's medical marijuana program, and six conditions for patients under 18.

The recommendations on Monday followed a February public hearing where the board asked for additional information from addiction specialists regarding opioid addiction.

"Our program is so successful because of the involvement of the medical community, including the state's Board of Physicians," DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said. "The medical community can also play a key role regarding research of medical marijuana and the benefits it gives more than 26,000 patients in Connecticut."

There are currently 26,464 medical marijuana patients in the state and 913 physicians registered with the program, a DCP spokeswoman said Monday.

In May, DCP reported that opioid prescriptions in Connecticut have dropped by about 17 percent, or 440,091, since 2014.

Physicians wrote over 2.1 million opioid prescriptions in 2017 vs. 2.6 million prescribed in 2014, DCP says.

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