Opioid Addicts Now Qualify For Medical Marijuana In New Jersey

January 23, 2019 - 6:30 pm

TRENTON (WCBS 880) — People suffering from opioid addictions are now eligible for medical marijuana in New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy made announced Wednesday the new initiatives to fight the opioid epidemic, including removing the requirement for prior authorization for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and adding opioid addiction as a condition to the medical marijuana program.

“Effective today, through the Department of Health, opioid addiction will be added for eligibility to our medical marijuana program,” Murphy announced.

The change comes after more than 3,100 people died of drug overdoses in the state in 2017.

“Last year saw a 15 percent increase over 2017 in deaths,” Murphy said. “2017 itself saw a 24 percent increase over 2016.”

According to Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal, someone could only apply for medical marijuana with underlying chronic pain in the past.

“There's epidemiologic data and there's clinical data that strongly suggests that medical marijuana can help people bridge and reduce their dependence on opioids,” Elnahal said.

The Department of Health said doctors may begin recommending marijuana for opioid addiction immediately.

The medical marijuana development comes as Murphy and state lawmakers continue to debate legislation to legalize recreational use in the state.