Most people today are likely aware of the fact that the United States is smack dab in the middle of a prescription painkiller overdose epidemic. Awareness, however, is not nearly enough to scare away a problem so deeply festering and troublesome.
Between pharmaceutical-grade oxycontin and blackmarket heroin, the number of annual drug overdose deaths has recently grown to disgusting proportions.
47,055 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014 — more than any year before it. That’s one and a half times more people than were killed in car accidents. 61% of those overdoses stemmed from opioids. According to other stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 44 people in the U.S. die every day from prescription drug overdoses.
And this has been going on for a while: since 2000, opioid drug overdose deaths have risen 200%. And in those fifteen years, nearly 500,000 Americans have fatally succumbed to opioids.
So what’s the solution? According to the CDC, we need a renewed emphasis on safe prescribing practices. We also need to improve state policies regarding prescription drugs and develop some prescription drug monitoring programs to help identify issues with addiction earlier in a victim.
What the CDC fails to mention, however, is that on multiple occasions it has been shown that a functioning medical marijuana market leads to less opioid overdoses in the community.
This is an astounding blow to the pharmaceutical industry: not only are the drugs being peddled by Big Pharma literally killing more U.S. citizens than any other product on the market (except perhaps tobacco), but now it’s been shown that the legalization of medical cannabis — which is often lauded as a healthier, cheaper, and more natural alternative to many mainstream pain medications — can actually help protect American lives from the murderous onslaught of doctor-prescribed addiction.
Wake up and smell the pot, America.
Photo Credit: Kurtis Garbutt