With overdose deaths from prescription opioids skyrocketing across America, on Monday, June 6, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a law to expand Vermont’s successful medical marijuana system and give doctors an alternative to highly addictive opiates when treating some conditions such as chronic pain.
“At a time when opiate addiction is ravaging our state and drug companies continue to urge our doctors to pass out painkillers like candy, we need to find a more practical solution to pain management. This bill ensures that Vermonters who are suffering will have access to medicine that is high quality, laboratory tested, and most importantly non-addictive,” Gov. Shumlin said, June 6.
Under the legislation, S.14, new groups of Vermonters will now have access to medical marijuana, including those with glaucoma, chronic pain, and patients under Hospice care.
This adds to conditions that already have access to medical marijuana, which include cachexia or wasting syndrome, cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, seizures, severe pain, and severe nausea.
Additionally, the new law adds childproof packaging and increased labeling requirements to marijuana infused products sold at dispensaries.
Recent data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) show that between 1999 and 2014, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids quadrupled, with more than 165,000 people dying.
Despite that, the number of prescriptions for opioids continues to rise. In 2010 enough opiates were prescribed to keep every adult in America high for an entire month and in 2012 enough were prescribed to give every American their own bottle of pills, according to the CDC.
The new qualifying conditions for medical marijuana take effect immediately.