New Mexico could become the first state to officially recognize cannabis as an effective alternative to opioid painkillers – if activists succeed in getting opioid use disorder (OUD) added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, that is.

It’s a tall order. Several states – including Nevada, Maine and even New Mexico itself earlier this year – have rejected bids to have opiate addiction accepted as a condition for cannabis use.

But advocates in New Mexico aren’t throwing in the towel, once again taking their recommendations to the New Mexico Department of Health for a meeting of the NM Dept. Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

In New Mexico, the last bid was rejected due to what NM Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher called a lack of confidence in the safety and efficacy of “the use of cannabis for treatment of opioid dependence and its symptoms.”

Dr. Anita Briscoe, a clinical nurse, spearheaded this latest petition. This time, she came prepared with 21 pages of research supporting the benefits of cannabis in treating opioid addiction.

“I was compelled by reports from multiple patients who said that medical cannabis helped them kick their heroin or prescription opioid habit,” said Briscoe.

“I’ve seen the devastating toll opioid misuse [has] on individuals and families, and in my experience as a clinician I have witnessed the benefits of access to medical cannabis for people suffering from addiction. I want to heal my town.”

As always, Briscoe and her fellow advocates have more than a few obstacles to face in this fight – chief of which may very well be New Mexico Governor and vocal cannabis opponent Susana Martinez.

That said, the unpopular Republican governor’s final year in office is approaching. Out of the five candidates vying to be her replacement, three support legalizing cannabis for adult use.

Numerous studies have highlighted marijuana’s potential as an exit drug for opioid addicts. Most recently, a study by Aclara Research found that two out of three paint patients were able to replace opioids with cannabis.

h/t Leafly