Rhode Island Officials Reject Opioid Dependency as Qualifier for Medical Cannabis

The Rhode Island Department of Health has rejected a request to add opioid dependency to the list of conditions that qualify a patient for the state’s medical marijuana program. In a decision released last week, Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott wrote that chronic pain, the reason most opioids are prescribed to patients, is already a qualifying condition to use medical marijuana.

“As a result,” wrote Scott in her April 22 decision, the department “does not believe it is necessary to add OUD [opioid use disorder] as a qualifying condition.”

The B&B Medical Marijuana Evaluation Center requested earlier this year that the health department add opioid addiction to the state’s list of qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana. The center is the only facility authorized by the state of Rhode Island to issue medical cannabis recommendations, with locations in the cities of Warwick and Pawtucket.

Not Enough Research

In February, the health department held a hearing on the request from B&B. Most of the information offered at the hearing focused on the ability of cannabis to relieve chronic pain. Scott wrote that a review of the available research “did not yield evidence to support the use of medical marijuana as an effective

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