Medical marijuana could help fight opioid crisis in the Valley

Published: Feb. 12, 2018 at 6:41 PM EST
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After both the House of Delegates and the Senate passed a bill allowing doctors to decide which patients should be prescribed medical marijuana, treatment centers around the Commonwealth are looking forward to how the bill might impact the opioid crisis.

Karen Simonsen, head nurse at the Staunton Treatment Center, said THC-A oil is a much safer way to treat chronic pain than opioids and the oil can even be used to wean people off of their opioid addictions.

Simonsen said when doctors have the option to prescribe THC-A oil, opioid prescriptions decrease, along with rates of opioid addiction and opioid overdoses.

Simonsen said that treatment centers have been hoping for legislation like this for years.

"I think most of the medication assisted treatment centers, and even some of the abstinence based treatment centers, all across America are sort of celebrating that this could happen and actually save lives and help some people," said Simonsen.

By prescribing THC-A oil, Simonsen said patients have higher success rates as they try to recover. She said she was excited to hear about the bill's passing because she believes it will reduce the number of opioid related deaths in the area.

"There's just an abundance of studies that show if we're going to be able to prescribe marijuana under medical supervision, we're likely going to reduce the opioid overdose death rate," said Simonsen.

In order to be signed into law, the bill will now head to Governor Ralph Northam for the final approval.