New Colorado Law Allows Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana as Opioid Alternative

Doctors and patients all over Colorado are excited about a new Colorado medical marijuana law that may help reduce opioid use. The recently passed Senate Bill 13, which expands the list of medical conditions which qualify for medical marijuana prescriptions, allows medical providers to prescribe medical marijuana rather than opioids for debilitating chronic and painful medical conditions. The bill was signed by Governor Jared Polis in May of 2019, with the House voting 47-16, and the Senate voting 33-2. During the bill signing, Gov. Polis remarked, “Colorado loses a community member to drug overdose roughly every nine hours, with opioids contributing to over half those deaths. Those deaths are preventable. 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.”

Under current Colorado medical marijuana law, patients suffering from diseases and chronic conditions such as cancer, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, epilepsy, eating disorders, PTSD, HIV and AIDS, migraines, insomnia, chronic pain, and other disorders that cause nausea, seizures, and severe pain are eligible from treatment using medical marijuana. Under the new law, any condition for which opioids could be prescribed is also included.

Some critics of the bill expressed concern that Senate Bill 13 would lead to unnecessary medical marijuana prescriptions, but proponents of the bill point out that by allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for medical conditions which merit a painkiller prescription physicians may be able to help reduce opioid use thereby having a positive impact on the current opioid crisis in our nation. In 2017 alone, 3.7 million opioid prescriptions were written in Colorado, with 1,635 prescription opioid related deaths between 2013 and 2017. However, there are no medical marijuana related deaths on record. Still, some physicians in Colorado are hesitant to support the prescription of medical marijuana in place of opioids. One such physician, Stephanie Stewart, expressed the concern that “This will substitute marijuana for an FDA-approved medication — something that’s unregulated for something that’s highly regulated.”

The new law is scheduled to take effect on August 2, 2019, once passed by the Colorado General Assembly, making it the latest in a string of progressive Colorado medical marijuana laws that are helping to change the societal view of medical marijuana and its efficacy in treating painful medical conditions previously treated using highly addictive opioids.

For recommendations on which medical marijuana treatment may be best for you, call us at Medical Alternatives Clinic in Colorado Springs today at (719) 246-0393, or email us at with your questions, or to request an appointment. Our MMJ Doctors in Colorado Springs and Pueblo are here to assist you in any way we can and will provide you with a copy of any paperwork necessary for your records.