O’Donnell Introduces Bill to Combat Opioid Crisis. Adding Opioid Substance Abuse to Medical Marijuana Law

New York, NY – 1/29/18 – Assembly Member O’Donnell introduced legislation recently to combat the opioid crisis in New York State. The bill A9016, would allow the use of medical marijuana to treat opioid substance abuse, prescribed by medical practitioners registered with the Department of Health.

New York State Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell stated, “New York State has waited too long to act on the opioid crisis. As a legislator I often defer to my colleagues that have expertise, experience with, or represent the communities most affected by an issue. I know I’m not the ideal sponsor of this bill, as I don’t have the most experience or expertise on this issue, but I cannot continue to be a bystander of inaction and reluctance to lead while people are dying. The time for pilot programs and ad campaigns is long past. Immediate action is necessary, and anything but action is cowardice in the face of one of the biggest threats to the lives of New Yorkers. I’m glad that Senator Diane Savino, whose home district in Staten Island is battling one of the highest rates of opioid overdoses in the state, will be joining me as the Senate sponsor of this bill. Her expertise as sponsor of the original medical marijuana bill makes the Senator invaluable to the process.”

New York State Senator Diane Savino said, “We have seen over the past few years that Medical Cannabis has improved the quality of life for those suffering from debilitating illness. If we can also improve the lives of those who have fought addiction to opioids, we should not stand in the way of them having a productive life with less pain.”

O’Donnell also wanted to credit Chair of the Health Committee Dick Gottfried, and said “It’s not often a bill is introduced and put on a committee agenda immediately. I sincerely thank Chair of Health Dick Gottfried for acting so quickly and look forward to working with him on future bills I introduce to combat the opioid crisis.”

Assembly Member O’Donnell has also introduced two other pieces of legislation related to the opioid crisis. One requires Naloxone to be on-premises in schools where a nurse is present, and the other requires training with Naloxone for Resident Assistants in college dormitories. Naloxone is an opioid receptor blocker credited with reversing overdoses and giving first responders time to treat patients. The training to administer Naloxone takes minutes and the drug has no effect unless opioids are present in the patient’s system.

How to Qualify and Register for New York’s Medical Cannabis Program


Diagnosis of a life-threatening and/or severely debilitating conditions are prime requisites to treatment through Medical Cannabis. In New York State’s Medical Cannabis Program, Patients, Practitioners, and Registered Organizations go through a step by step process to ensure appropriate treatment through a holistic care and recovery program. Patients, practitioners, and product producing organizations are managed by the Department of Health in order to provide a centralized health care system. Life-threatening illness and severely debilitating conditions are the primary qualifications for registration in the Medical Cannabis Program.

It is found that through the Medical Cannabis Program, patients, suffering from severe diseases such as cancer, HIV, and AIDS, can enjoy the symptomatic relief of pain, nausea, and insomnia. Among other relief benefits, active ingredients in Cannabis are being used to treat neurological and inflammatory symptoms. The proper diagnosis, administration, and rehabilitation through Medicinal Cannabis offer severely ill patients a wider range of treatment. The New York State Department of Health Medicinal Cannabis Program publishes qualification and registration information for patients, practitioners, and organizations, which can be found here: https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/.

In an effort to stay within the bounds of legislation, patients must ensure that their treating practitioner is registered with the State’s Department of Health. Otherwise, it would be advised to find a registered practitioner: https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/practitioner/public_list.htm. New York State patients can get access to a registered practitioner through a database on the Department of Health’s website. Once patients have discussed treatments through their registered practitioner, they must obtain a certification from their registered practitioner and register with the Department of Health. Online registration and application is available. Simply log on to the corresponding links on the Department website. Once the patient registration has been processed and approved, a registry ID will be received in the mail. Purchases can now be made in authorized dispensing facilities and organizations.

Treatment with registered practitioners ensures the quality and viability of the Medical Cannabis Program. Patients can then get access to a wide array of options such as liquids and oils for vapor inhalers, and capsules for oral intake. A practitioner, under the rules and regulations of the Department of Health, must be a licensed, good standing physician in order to qualify as a registered practitioner. The physician practitioner must undergo a 2-hour course in order to be fully qualified in handling Medicinal Cannabis cases. Topics in relation to the course include pharmacology, contraindications, side effects, dosage, risks and benefits, and precautionary measures against dependence and abuse.

Alongside Cancer, the positive diagnosis of HIV and AIDS, PTSD, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, damage to the nervous tissue on the spinal cord and more are qualifying cases for Medicinal administration for Medical Cannabis. The complete list of qualifying conditions can be found via the New York State Department of Health Website. Simply access the patient information to get the necessary information on qualified illnesses.

Further information on dispensing locations and facilities can be accessed via the New York Department of Health website

12 Diseases That Can Be Treated With Medical Cannabis

Note: The following information in this blog is specific to the state of New York. If you want to learn more about the information on medical cannabis programs in your state, contact your state health department.


New York State’s Medical Cannabis Program allows patients who suffer from certain serious conditions, certified by a practitioner, to receive medical cannabis products for medical use. The New York State Health Department has listed the following conditions qualifiable for medical cannabis care:


– Cancer

– Positive status for HIV or AIDS

– Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

– Parkinson’s disease

– Multiple Sclerosis

– Spinal Cord Damage

– Epilepsy

– Inflammatory bowel disease

– Neuropathy

– Chronic pain as defined by 10 NYCRR §1004.2(a)(8)(xi)

– Post-traumatic stress disorder

– Huntington’s disease


Patients must also have one of the following associated or complicating conditions: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures or persistent muscle spasms. The information below is an in-depth look at how medical cannabis can treat, offer relief and suppress certain symptoms of these serious medical conditions.



According to the American Cancer Society, in 2017, there will be an estimated 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed and 600,920 cancer deaths in America. Cancer is a collection of diseases in which the body’s cells divide and spread to other surrounding tissues, often leading to the formation of dangerous tumors. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in America. The American Cancer Society states that medical cannabis can be helpful in treating neuropathic pain, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, improving food intake and lowering the numbers of patients in need of pain medicine.



HIV and AIDS is an infection that attacks and destroys infection-fighting cells of the immune system. Neuropathic pain often lowers the quality of life of HIV-infected patients, despite opioid pain management. Cannabinoid receptors located in the peripheral and central nervous system have been found to alleviate the perception of pain. Nausea, lack of appetite and cachexia or muscle wasting, are common problems among those with the disease. Many clinical studies have found HIV patients have profound reductions in nausea and increases in appetite with medical cannabis. Cannabis therapy has been highly effective in alleviating symptoms of nausea, leading to the maintenance of a healthy weight or even weight gain in those who are already underweight.


Amotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

ALS is an extremely degenerative neurological disorder that impacts nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord causing muscle weakness, wasting, paralysis of the limbs, loss of control of speech, swallowing and breathing. It’s estimated that this disease affects more than 20,000 Americans. Medical cannabis has been used to treat this disease for a long time. Preclinical research has found that cannabis has powerful anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties which may slow the progression of ALS and prolong the lives of people affected.


Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson’s disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. Researchers have observed that THC and CBD, through vapor inhalation, help to alleviate the tremors and shakes associated with Parkinson’s disease.


Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. MS causes multiple malfunctions in a person’s immune system, often triggering many different symptoms including vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination. Studies have shown that medical cannabis can be highly effective in reducing the symptoms of MS, even in patients who have suffered from it for years. CITIVA is proud to announce that they have developed a special line of cannabinoid medications that are tailored to treat common MS symptoms such as spasms, bladder control issues, shaking, insomnia, and overall pain. Clinical testing of these medications is currently being done.


Spinal Cord Damage

Spinal cord damage is damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves on the spinal canal. This injury often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation and body functions. Clinical studies have shown that THC and CBD, the effective chemical constituents of medical cannabis, can control symptoms in people with spinal cord damage. Furthermore, patients generally experience fewer unwanted side effects with this option than with traditional pharmaceutical drugs.



Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that causes unprovoked, recurrent seizures. This disorder affects around 3 million Americans. Studies from 2016 recorded 36.5% fewer seizures per month in participants after 12 weeks of using oral does of 2 to 5mg of CBD oil every day. The American Epilepsy Society states that CBD research offers hope for seizure disorders and that more research is currently being done to better understand the safety concerns behind this type of treatment. CITIVA is actively developing cannabinoid ratios specifically designed to suppress seizures for a broad spectrum of epileptic syndromes.


Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD is term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of your digestive tract. These include Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. IBD can be an extremely debilitating condition and sometimes lead to life-threatening complications. Researchers in 2011, performed a study on 30 patients suffering from Crohn’s disease and discovered that the use of medical cannabis led to a significant drop in the amount of pain and discomfort experienced by sufferers. CITIVA’s medical team has seen many sufferers of Crohn’s disease and IBD see significant pain reduction when using medical cannabis. CITIVA is working on a new line of medical cannabis products to specifically treat IBD.



Neuropathy is a disorder of the nerves apart from the brain and spinal cord. Those who have this disorder may have tingling, numbness, loss of bodily functions, weakness and pain. Research between 2005 and 2010 on the benefits of synthetic CBD and inhaled cannabis products concluded that both options can successfully manage symptoms linked to neuropathy. The researchers noted that the synthetic oral CBD called nabilone was effective for individuals with intolerance, resistance and allergic reactions to conventional treatments. Research conducted in Canada and the University of Pennsylvania also show the benefits of cannabis for neuropathic patients. They have less pain, more manageable side effects and improved sleep.


Chronic Pain

One in every four Americans, (roughly, 76.2 million people) have suffered from chronic pain. With the high amount of people seeking treatment for chronic pain, CBD has emerged as a natural remedy for pain. To qualify for medical cannabis treatment, the New York State Health Department requires that a patient “has experienced intolerable side effects, or has experienced failure of one or more previously tried therapeutic options” and that pain has lasted longer (or is likely to last longer) than three months. Medical cannabis treatments such as CBD, is non-addictive in comparison to medications commonly recommended by doctors such as Vicodin, Codeine and OxyContin. Medical cannabis is shown to reduce chronic pain, inflammation and nausea (caused by pain medications), when used alone and in conjunction with other traditional treatments.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, is a mental health condition that people can develop after experiencing a life-threatening event such as combat, a natural disaster, car accident or sexual assault. PTSD can cause anxiety, insomnia, depression, episodes, paranoia and more. CBD has shown to help ease many of these symptoms and even change the way the brain’s receptors respond to serotonin.


Huntington’s disease (HD)

HD is an incurable, hereditary brain disorder that causes degeneration of the brain. As the disease progresses, it diminishes a person’s ability to talk, walk, and reason. People with this disorder may experience involuntary twitching movements. In addition to affecting a person’s ability to reason, those who suffer from it will also experience changes in their personality. New evidence reveals that cannabinoids may potentially work as neuroprotectants by improving the functioning of mitochondria and reducing the cellular debris that is caused by inflammation. This, along with several other studies has shown that medical cannabis can be a useful treatment for HD.


While there is still a lot to learn about medical cannabis and its affect on treating diseases and illnesses, it has brought hope for many patients who suffer with these debilitating conditions. CITIVA is committed to standardizing and scientifically proving the therapeutic and clinical effects of cannabinoid medicine. CITIVA understands that natural cannabinoid medicine has the potential to revolutionize the way pain and disease are treated. The early signs are there. Millions are finding relief from cannabis extracts. CITIVA believes we can do better for these patients by offering them natural medicines that are tested, reliable and consistent.


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