The U.S. government says federal grant dollars awarded for opioid and other substance abuse treatment can’t be spent on marijuana.
The news comes as the opioid crisis continues to rage on in states across the country — more and more of which now allow the use medical and recreational marijuana.
While the drug is illegal on the federal level, at least 33 states allow the use of medical marijuana. Additionally, about a dozen allow the recreational use of the drug.
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) doles out billions in grant dollars to fight the opioid epidemic ever year. In FY 2018 alone, the government’s opioid funding contribution was $7.4 billion, up from $3.3 billion the year before.
The federal government’s recent grant guidance is geared toward states that allow patients with opioid addiction to use marijuana as part of their treatment, according to the Associated Press. It also applies to using marijuana for mental health treatment.
“We felt that it was time to make it clear we did not want individuals receiving funds for treatment services to be exposed to marijuana and somehow given the impression that it’s a treatment,” Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) for mental health and substance use, told the news agency.
She noted that there is “zero evidence” marijuana-based treatments are successful at curtailing opioid addiction.
States such as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, among others, have attempted to use medical marijuana to fight the opioid epidemic, allowing them in OUD treatment.
A spokeswoman for Pennsylvania’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs told the AP it’s too early to determine what — if any affects — the new rule will have on care. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Health told the news agency that federal money was now currently being spent on weed-related treatment.