Last week, the media reported about the precipitous and unexpected decline of MaineCare patients receiving prescription opiates for pain management (Bangor Daily News, Feb. 27).

As an operator of Canuvo, in Biddeford, one of the eight dispensaries participating in the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program, and as president of the Maine Association of Dispensary Operators, I believe there is another piece to this story.

A great many of the patients benefiting from medical cannabis are enrolled in MaineCare. Even though MaineCare doesn’t cover the cost of this medicine, many of these patients come to us seeking an alternative to the prescription opiates they’ve used for pain.

Federal law has not evolved with public attitudes on medical cannabis, and it still prevents the thorough study of its therapeutic and palliative benefits. Our professional — though admittedly anecdotal — experience indicates that cannabis can be a very effective pain management tool for some patients. My peers and I all have served patients who have used medical cannabis and successfully stopped using prescription opiates. We’ve seen them able to return to work and feel like their former selves again.

Along with chronic pain therapists, chiropractors and other providers, Maine’s dispensaries are proud to be playing a role in helping patients manage their pain and stop using opiates.

Glenn PetersonPoland

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