The Rhode Island Department of Health will soon consider whether opioid dependency should qualify patients for using medical marijuana.
Bill Cotton is petitioning the state for the change. He owns B and B Consulting a Rhode Island business that helps get people get into the medical marijuana program.
Cotton says medical marijuana could be used as a substitute for doctor-prescribed opioids, and as a way to help wean people off opiates.
“A lot of our patients come to B and B for chronic pain, and they would like to have that choice of using medical cannabis, versus opioids,” Cotton said. “Opioids have a lot of side effects where cannabis doesn’t, including addiction issues.”
The Department of Health has final say any new uses for medical marijuana, and will host a public hearing on the petition for the new qualifying condition in February.
“We see a lot of patients that wish they could come to us because they’re having issues with opiates, or their doctor has prescribed them opiates, and they don’t want to be on them, but opiates are not a qualifying condition, not yet,” Cotton said.