Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission Investigates Whether Cannabis is Effective Against Opioid Addiction

maryland medical cannabis

We all know our country is struggling to find ways to battle the destructive opioid epidemic. The state of Maryland is facing its own battle with over 49,000 residents suffering from opioid use disorder (OUD). With over 30 states now on-bored with medical or recreational cannabis, some are considering it as a possible treatment for addiction to drugs like oxycodone and heroin. But does it work?

maryland medical cannabis

States that have implemented medical cannabis laws have seen a reduction in opioid prescriptions for patients on Medicaid and Medicare health plans. These states are also seeing a drop in opioid overdose deaths. So why isn’t Maryland including cannabis as a treatment for OUD? Here is an overview of what the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission recently reported.

Can Maryland Medical Cannabis Treat Opioid Use Disorder?

The growing anecdotal evidence is clear – medical cannabis can be a useful tool for treating opioid cravings and easing the uncomfortable symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal. Opioid patients also report that cannabis helps them sleep and reduces the intensity of cravings.

maryland medical cannabis doctor with flower and tincture

The fact is, cannabis poses less of a risk than current FDA-approved opioid-based treatments like methadone. Patients see better treatment outcomes when they have access to cannabis, and many health care providers have seen high-dose opiate patients significantly reduce or eliminate opiates with the use of cannabis. So why isn’t Maryland using cannabis is fight OUD?

Why isn’t Opioid Use Disorder a Qualifying Condition in Maryland?

The Maryland State Assembly considered adding OUD to the list of qualifying conditions that can be treated by medical cannabis, but some national groups were against the idea. Their concern was over creating additional drug dependency, and the lack of clinical evidence.

But here’s the catch…

The main reason there is a lack of clinical evidence on the benefits of cannabis for OUD is that it’s classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government. This classification has severely limited most medical cannabis research, forcing the cannabis community to rely on anecdotal evidence (what patients self-report).

Fortunately, the DEA’s view on cannabis and its medical potential is beginning to change. With the growing number of states that now have laws which allow medical or recreational cannabis use, the DEA acknowledges there is a need for serious medical research.

Cannabis for OUD isn’t a new idea, and a number of states in the US are considering adding cannabis as an addiction treatment. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have already approved cannabis for opioid addiction, which could promote the idea on a national level.

The bottom line?

As of now, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission acknowledges that even though there is mounting anecdotal evidence for using cannabis for addiction, the scientific evidence is not there yet. Based on their medical literature review, the commission’s position is that medication-assisted treatments with drugs like methadone and naltrexone are best.

maryland medical cannabis Remedy Columbia Team
Photo Source: Remedy Colombia Facebook Page

If you’d like to try cannabis for one of the many conditions that do currently qualify in Maryland, we’d love to help. Schedule a visit or just drop by. We can’t wait to see you!

MMCC Celebrates 1 Year, Plus Medical Cannabis Changes You Need to Know

Maryland medical cannabis program

The Maryland medical cannabis program has grown in leaps and bounds since its start on December 1, 2017. At that time, less than 18,000 patients were registered and only eight dispensaries were open. The Maryland market now counts nearly 52,000 patients going to 71 dispensaries.

maryland medical cannabis program stethoscope with flower

Because of this expansion of patients and dispensaries, Maryland’s medical cannabis industry ended its first year of operation with $96.3 million in sales of 730,000 individual products.

And the pace has not let up. Between 250 and 350 patients have been applying to the program each day.

“Every Monday, we come in to 1,000 new applications. … People have really started to take notice of the cannabis program in Maryland,” Joy Strand, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), said.

In this post, we’ll review how much MMCC has achieved and the challenges moving forward.

Maryland Medical Cannabis in Numbers

maryland medical cannabis program doctor holding vial

Since the program started, there have been 2 million transactions. Here is what drove this result in one year:

  • The number of dispensaries grew from 8 to 71.  
  • 1,187 medical providers have registered with the program.
  • The number of patients grew to 51,704 by the end of November 2018.
  • 14 cultivators, 14 processors and 5 testing labs provided safe access to medical cannabis products at dispensaries.
  • 4,659 people registered as caregivers — individuals who care for minors or disabled people using cannabis products.

Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission Challenges

maryland medical cannabis program vial with cannabis flower

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has faced some criticism regarding accessibility to contracts, cost of entry, and products. Specifically:

  • The Maryland medical cannabis program is experiencing high race and gender disparities in their access to state and private sector contracts and in those factors necessary for business success. Based on statistical and anecdotal evidence, it has been determined by the state that affirmative intervention is still needed.
  • In order to purchase medical marijuana in 2018, patients had the option of showing either their license and certification card or patient ID. Now patients have to purchase a $50 patient ID card, which many feel is unfair considering traditional pharmaceuticals don’t have this requirement. Existing patients have until April 1 to purchase the card.
  • Cannabis edibles were not available in Maryland dispensaries for the entire first year. MMCC acknowledged that many patients, especially seniors, prefer to use edibles as their delivery method. Now word has to get out that edibles are available at dispensaries like Remedy Columbia.

Remedy Columbia Proud to Offer Maryland Medical Cannabis

The Maryland Medical Cannabis program still has progress to make, but it also has good reason to celebrate its first year with increased dispensaries and many more registered patients and providers.

Maryland Medical Cannabis Remedy Columbia Team

If you’re just starting the process, Remedy Columbia welcomes all licensed Maryland Patients for walk-ins. We also have Patient Registration Appointments and Patient Education Appointments to help you get started. One of our team members will assist you along your way to becoming a Medical Cannabis Patient in Maryland. The best part? Our menu has a variety of flower, extracts, edibles, tinctures, topicals, and more to choose from, now including edibles. Everybody will find something for them.