Medical marijuana has become a safer and more affordable alternative to opioid overdose treatment, Massachusetts health authorities said Thursday.
Maine’s Department of Public Health announced the state’s first trial of medical marijuana in the state last year, and the next step in the process will be to begin using it as an alternative to heroin and morphine.
Marijuana users who were diagnosed with opioid-related pain and/or symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain, and difficulty breathing, could receive a dose of cannabidiol oil in capsules, the agency said.
The state’s opioid addiction treatment program is currently limited to patients who are not using heroin or morphine, and those with severe pain and severe mental health issues who are willing to participate.
It is unclear how long the trial will last, but patients who receive cannabids should have the medication for up to one month.
Marijuanetin, the active ingredient in the marijuana plant, was approved in Massachusetts in October 2018, but was still under review for approval by the state in January 2019.
Mannabis was initially approved for use in November of that year for the treatment of cancer pain and epilepsy, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was not yet ready to allow it to be sold as a drug for recreational use.
A DEA spokeswoman told ABC News in March that the agency has yet to see evidence of a medical use for cannaboids, but added that it was reviewing the issue.
Mollie Mazzuca contributed to this report.