New Jersey Considers Using Medical Marijuana To Fight The Opioid Epidemic

New Jersey is turning to medical marijuana for help in the fight against opioid addiction. 

Opioid-related deaths have seen significant number in New Jersey, where more than 22,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2016. NJ Department of Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal says the Garden State is looking at implementing cannabis-based treatment programs for people who suffer from opioid use disorder, similar to those already operating in states like Pennsylvania.

"Right now the consideration is adding it as an addition to what’s called medication-assisted treatment, that is the evidence-based treatment people get for addiction," Elnahal told CBS NewYork. “When they’re addicted it actually helps them get off and get into recovery."

And if the state decides to approve medical marijuana as a treatment for opioid abuse, the number of MMJ patients would likely spike. But the industry is poised to accommodate them since New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) has recently announced plans to double the cap of state-licensed cannabis dispensaries, bringing the total number from 6 to 12. 

"We look forward to the opening of six new dispensaries so we can ensure that all qualifying patients who want access to medicinal marijuana can have it," Murphy said.

The announcement comes shortly after New Jersey moved to expand the list of medical conditions that are eligible for treatment with cannabis.

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