Proposed Arizona Law: Medical Marijuana For Opioid Addiction?

By Will Stone
Published: Monday, March 26, 2018 - 3:46pm

Medical marijuana could soon become one of the treatments for those with opioid use disorder in Arizona.

A proposed law making its way through the state Legislature would add opioid use disorder as one of the qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana card.

Sponsored by Republican Rep. Vince Leach, House Bill 2064 began as a way to prevent medical marijuana from being marketed to children, but took a surprising turn when Leach added an amendment earlier this month.

Under the legislation, opioid use disorder would be considered a “debilitating medical condition” like cancer, HIV or severe and chronic pain.

“Opioid addicts who use marijuana have a much harder time getting off the opioids,” said Dr. Ed Gogek, a psychiatrist affiliated with the anti-marijuana group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP).

ARDP recently sent an email urging its supporters to contact state lawmakers to voice their opposition to the bill.

Gogek believes adding marijuana as another treatment option will only make the state’s opioid epidemic worse.

“People who try to substitute one drug for another are much more likely to use both,” he said. “The people who stay clean and sober are the people who get off all of them.”

Groups like the Arizona Public Health Association (AzPHA) disagree.

“It has an opportunity to do more good than harm,” AzPHA director Will Humble said.

“It’s a patient by patient decision. For some, it may be useful. Adding it to the list at least allows a physician to consider medical marijuana as they are working with their patients,” Humble said.

More than 1,000 people are believed to have died from opioid overdoses in Arizona since June.

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