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Denver Colorado Faces a Serious Opiate Epidemic

Everyone in the United States is well aware of the passing of legislature to legalize recreational marijuana use in Colorado.  Sure it comes with strict guidelines and fines if sold improperly, but why did it take so long to legalize a plant that for the most part is not as dangerous as legal pharmaceuticals? This is a question that has boggled my mind for years. Marijuana has been vilified as being a gateway drug since the “War on Drugs” was launched in 1971 by President Nixon. It has been the drug that has been drilled into our heads since we were children to stay away from. But in reality, it may be the least dangerous drug available to the public. Most states consider marijuana use illegal and much of the public looks at it as a dangerous drug. It makes you wonder, how does the public and government feel about marijuana compared to legal prescription painkillers?

Colorado, being the first state to legalize recreational use will be highly taxed and may bring much needed income to the state to help with certain programs that lack funding. The legalization of marijuana in Colorado is being looked at by other states with a magnifying glass. They want to let Colorado be the guinea pig to see the results. If it works out well for Colorado and the money made in tax show great gains for the state with little repercussions from the recreational drug use, other states will quickly follow suit.

What bothers me most about the media covering this issue is the lack of reality that most Americans want to hear. I personally have never lost a friend to marijuana use. I have however lost more friends than I care to mention who lost their battle with legal substances. Whether it be from alcohol or prescription painkillers, thousands of people lose their lives to substances that are deemed as “safe.” I understand that prescription painkillers are prescribed for those who are in pain.  The epidemic the country is facing is due to an over-prescribing of opiate medications.  Large pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars that flood lobbyists to pay politicians to keep their racket running. The whole situation seems completely insane to me.

The media is jumping all over the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, but there is little attention paid to the fact that Colorado is ranked number 2 for the abuse of prescription painkillers. That ranking came out of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and covered 2010-11. In 2005, Colorado lawmakers created a prescription drug monitoring system to give prescribers the ability to see if patients are getting multiple prescriptions of painkillers (Doctor Shopping).  According to a report done by the Denver Post in 2012, doctors and pharmacies check the registry only 10 to 15 percent of the time! What is the point of having such systems in place if they are not going to use them? Things like this should be publicized nationally. Prescription painkillers are being abused and over-prescribed in every state. It's time that this issue gets the coverage that it deserves.


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