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Connecticut Hospice will study medical marijuana as opioid alternative

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BRANFORD -- In 2012, there were nearly 100 heroin related deaths in Connecticut. In 2015, that number soared to over 400. Now, Connecticut Hospice is doing its best to help slow the opioid epidemic.

The Branford-based palliative care facility will soon embark on a federally-funded study to see if the use of medical marijuana can improve pain management and reduce the need for opioid medications, which can be very addictive.

During the course of the six-month study, patients will be administered medical marijuana, in capsule form, three times daily, for a period of five days.

Their quality of life, pain level, appetite, level of depression and respiratory function will all be assessed.

A state funded study, related to rib fractures and opioid use, will be conducted at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. Soon, the state will also partner with the Connecticut Children's Medical Center to investigate the potential to use medical marijuana to treat epilepsy.

The hospice study is expected to get under way in January.