A new law in Colorado allows doctors to prescribe patients medical marijuana instead of traditionally prescribed opiates for any condition as the state seeks to battle the opiate addiction crisis.
The law, which The Denver Post reported in May would go into effect Friday, allows patients to choose medical marijuana as an alternative prescription for any diagnosis that would normally result in a prescription of an opioid-based medication.
The bill passed the state legislature with little opposition, though some critics said that the law could result in some patients being prescribed marijuana when different drugs are required.
“Our real concern is that a patient would go to a physician with a condition that has a medical treatment with evidence behind it, and then instead of that treatment, they would be recommended marijuana instead,” one physician in Aurora, Colo., told the Post.
“This will substitute marijuana for an FDA-approved medication — something that’s unregulated for something that’s highly regulated,” the physician added.
Dozens of states have approved cannabis for medical use and recreational use of the drug has been legalized or decriminalized in many states as well, though marijuana remains a federally banned substance.
“It was designed to give physicians a legal, open option to discuss [medical marijuana use] with patients,” state Rep. Edie Hooton (D), the bill's co-sponsor, told NBC News of the legislation. “It normalizes the conversation around the issue.”