State approves first medical marijuana research program - WFSB 3 Connecticut

State approves first medical marijuana research program

Posted: Updated:
(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Researchers in the state are trying to save the lives of opioid abusers through marijuana.

Drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of accidental deaths. Connecticut hopes to change that through medical research.

Doctors at Saint Francis plan to start a new program to see how well marijuana controls pain compared to opioid like oxycondone.

"It's just as effective, less addictive, milder side effects and practically no risk for overdose," Dr. James Feeney of Saint Francis Hospital said.

Dr. Feeney is a surgeon who feels marijuana can be just as effective but without the huge risk of addiction.

What they are doing is groundbreaking. Research has not been done because the federal government considers marijuana a class one drug, meaning highly dangerous and addictive.

Doctors and the state's Department of Consumer Protection disagree.

"Many professionals, patients and families are eager to learn more about the benefits of cannibis beyond what we already know," Jonathon Harris of the Department of Consumer Protection said.

Connecticut allows marijuana for medical reasons. 

When the program started in 2014, it included 11 conditions and 1,500 patients. 

Today, there are 22 conditions and close to 15,000 patients.

"Part of the study is to look at how patients feel about their pain and how to get them back to work quickly. It's all part of the survey," said Feeney.

But because the federal government considers this a class one drug, there is no federal money for research.

In this case, doctors at Saint Francis have raised $50,000 to do this research. That in itself is impressive.

Research could start in a few months.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.