Gov. Phil Murphy says his administration is adding opioid addiction to the list of eligible illnesses in New Jersey's medical marijuana program.
Murphy announced the change Wednesday at Cooper University Hospital along with other steps aimed at fighting the state's opioid epidemic.
Murphy said the state's Medicinal Marijuana Program will have expanded availability by allowing for the use of medical cannabis as an adjunct to treatments involving medication for all patients that suffer from opioid addiction, not only those with chronic pain.
Murphy also said the state would be removing a requirement that makes it harder for opioid addicts on Medicaid to get treatments involving medication, known as Medication Assisted Treatment or MAT. The Democratic governor says the state is doing away with the so-called Medicaid prior-authorization requirement.
He also said Medicaid would be building opioid treatment centers in Camden at Cooper and in Newark at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
“The opioid epidemic continues to devastate families and communities across our state,” Murphy said. “As we combat this crisis, it is critical that we use data-driven, evidence-based strategies to support individuals suffering from addiction and help them get on the path to recovery.”
Murphy says New Jersey had more than 3,000 overdose deaths in 2018. That's up from more than 2,700 in 2017.
“We cannot defeat the opioid epidemic and we cannot win the fight against addiction, if we do not work together – and that’s exactly what we have been doing,” Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Additionally, Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said "we need all-hands-on-deck to fight the opioid epidemic."