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States Ramping Up Marijuana Safety Regulations as Access Expands

April 30, 2019

Opioid-related legislation and regulation varies by state, and during a breakout session Thursday at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, Elizabeth Platt, JD, vice president of operations at Legal Science, a legal technology software firm in Philadelphia, and Scott Burris, JD, professor of law and public health at Temple University, provided an overview of state policies and legislative trends relating to the opioid crisis.

Areas covered during the presentation included: Prescription drug monitoring programs, naloxone, Good Samaritan laws, marijuana laws, pain management, and opioid prescribing guidelines. Among the highlights of the session:

  • As of Feb. 1, all states except for Missouri have laws authorizing a prescription drug monitoring database, according the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System (PDAPS), although the ways in which they are implemented vary. For example, 37 states require prescribers to check their state’s PDMP before prescribing controlled substances. And while 45 states require dispensers to report data to their PDMP every day, Minnesota has no timeframe specified for reporting and other states range from requiring reporting in real time (Oklahoma) to up to every seven days.
  • As of Feb. 1, 33 states (including Washington, D.C.) have laws authorizing adults to use medical marijuana, per PDAPS. More states are adding qualifying conditions, such as PTSD, psoriatic arthritis and other pain conditions, for its use, Platt said.
  • Coinciding with the rapid legalization of recreational marijuana, states are becoming more active in the regulation of product safety and dispensaries, Platt said. As of February, 31 states reported having medical marijuana product testing regulations, according to PDAPS, although just two states reported not having such regulations, with data not available for the remaining states. Meanwhile, 18 states were found to require labels for edibles to list ingredients. Data was not available for the remaining 33 states. Blatt said she has also observed movement with regards to child safety around medical marijuana, specifically with childproof packaging and regulation of advertisements to ensure they aren’t attracting minors.
  • All states and Washington, D.C., have naloxone access laws on the books, and 44 states now have standing orders for opioid overdose reversal medication. But with the Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of a generic naloxone nasal spray and its work with pharmaceutical companies to launch over-the-counter versions of the medication, standing order laws state-to-state could become a thing of the past, Platt said.
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