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Medical marijuana: The answer for chronic pain?

Posted at 11:41 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-10 23:41:50-04

People who suffer from chronic pain know how life can be turned upside down. 

Many patients of Dr. Eugene Gosy, like Peter Fairchok say since the closure of Gosy's office, they haven't been able to get the pain medication they need to lead a normal life.

"I've been cutting myself back," said Fairchok. "If he reopens I'll get a refill on my script."

Fairchok has been treated by Gosy for more than 11 years, after he permanently damaged his spine at work. 

Doctors say in other parts of the country, patients who have chronic pain are finding relief with medical marijuana. While medical marijuana is legal in New York State, it can only be used to treat pain if that pain is neurologic in nature.

But there is a bill on the Assembly floor that would include chronic pain. It's something Medical Directors at Dent Neurologic Institute, like Dr. Laszlo Mechtler say could help these patients if they're given the chance.

 "The literature has been going on for several years now. We know individuals who use medical marijuana have a decrease in the use of opioids," Dr. Mechtler said.

Dr. Mechtler says he's been lobbying in Albany for the inclusion of chronic pain in New York's medical marijuana program.

"If you want to resolve the opioid epidemic going on in the United States, than we need to consider changing the medical marijuana laws to include chronic, benign pain," Dr. Mechtler.

Lawmakers tell 7 Eyewitness News medical marijuana could be a good long-term solution to reducing the opioid epidemic, but it could be a while before the bill passes because the program is so new.

Statement by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried

 “Severe chronic pain is often treated with opioids that are much more dangerous and addictive than medical marijuana.  Research shows that authorizing medical use of marijuana for severe chronic pain can not only be an effective treatment, but can reduce mortality from opioid abuse.  It may be a difficult political lift – elected officials can be very  jittery around any issue related to drugs – but this bill could help bring relief to thousands of New Yorkers with far less risk than the current use of opioids.” 
 
This is the bill that is on the floor in the Assembly.

Click here to read more about the conditions currently covered under New York's Medical Marijuana program.