HARTFORD, CT — Patients, family members, and advocates made passionate pleas to add opioid use disorder and withdrawal to the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana in Connecticut, but they left Monday’s meeting disappointed.
The Board of Physicians tabled the condition following Monday’s public hearing. They said they want to seek further input from the addiction and mental health community before adding it to the list of conditions approved to purchase the drug.
“Our opioid overdose rates are rising greatly every day on an hourly basis, so if we have any potential option to reduce those risks for people and their families then we should look at it more wholeheartedly than they were today,” Christina Capitan, a patient liaison and community advocate for Prime Wellness of Connecticut, said.
Capitan’s company is one of nine distributors of medical marijuana.
Members of the community spoke about their personal experiences with opioid addiction and how cannabis extracts improved their pain, allowing them to embark on a path to recovery. Some pharmacists also suggested that the addition of the condition would enable data collection.
“My only goal was to treat my Crohn’s, so I could stay ahead of the pain and discomfort. ” Marc Huberman said. “The cannabis extracts kept my symptoms in control and during that whole time I was a functional member of society. It has really been an amazing benefit.”
A handful of people objected to the inclusion of opioid use disorder and withdrawal as an approved condition. They suggested exercise and diet would be just as helpful to the population.
The other three conditions also being considered Monday did not receive the same amount of advocacy from Connecticut residents. One person testified on Progressive Degenerative Disc Disease of the Spine, while nobody testified for in favor of adding albinism and Osteogenesis Imperfecta.
Despite the lack of testimony, the Board of Physicians voted to recommend osteogenesis imperfecta for both adults and patients under 18. Albinism (Nystagmus) was not recommended and Progressive Degenerative Disc Disease of the Spine was tabled until a future meeting that will be scheduled to further discuss on how best to define this condition.
There are currently 22 conditions that may qualify adults for Connecticut’s Medical Marijuana Program, and 6 conditions for patients under 18. There are currently 23,889 medical marijuana patients in the state, and 834 physicians registered with the program.
There are four growers and nine dispensaries.