Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, has signed Senate Bill 13 into law this week which will give the state’s doctors the power to recommend medical marijuana for any condition that may require an opioid prescription.

The bill will go into effect as soon as August 2nd.

“Colorado loses a community member to drug overdose roughly every nine hours, with opioids contributing to over half those deaths. Those deaths are preventable,” Polis said during the bill signing. “In light of these statistics, it is incumbent on our lawmakers to provide physicians with opportunities to discuss alternatives to opioids and to provide patients with choices even if additional research regarding medical marijuana is necessary.”

When the bill becomes a law, Colorado doctors will decide whether to prescribe opioids or recommend medical marijuana or a mixture of both to patients.

“This bill is kind of at the intersection of marijuana policy reform and opioid harm reduction work. We wanted to be realistic and pragmatic, and move away from primitive criminal approaches that just send people to the shadows, and sometimes cause more problems than drug use itself,” said Amanda Bent, former manager of policy for the recently closed Colorado chapter of the Drug Policy Alliance. She added, “We know from research that folks who use opioids tend to use less when supplementing their therapy with medical marijuana, so this is a way for them to avoid it altogether, or decide if some kind of complementary use is appropriate after talking with their treatment team.”

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