The term "crisis" is used far too often these days, and, more often than not, incorrectly. (Starbucks running out of vanilla soy milk does not constitute a crisis, Hysterical Harry.) What does constitute a true crisis is where the United States is in relation to opioids. Unlike Commander Cheeto, the numbers don't lie, according to a recent study.
Conservative estimates suggest that 2 million Americans have become dependent upon and/or abuse prescription opiates. Part of the blames rest with doctors, who increased prescriptions from 112 million in 1992 to 282 million by 2012. That number decreased slightly to 236 million by 2016.
The death rate from opiates has skyrocketed as well. In 2015, there were 52,404 overdose deaths in the US, including 33,091 which involves opiates. That adds up to a staggering 91 opiate-related deaths per day.
Addressing this issue and finding a solution has been slow, but a recent report from Colorado offers some hope. The American Journal of Public Health recently published their findings, showing that since adult-use sales of recreational cannabis began in Colorado, the state has seen a decline of 6 percent in opioid deaths. Researchers had been tracking opioid deaths since 2000, and had seen a steady increase for 14 years.
This is not the first study to come to the conclusion that cannabis may be a tool to help solve the problem. Another study, from the Journal of the American Medical Association, determined that between 1999 and 2010, the states with medical cannabis laws had a nearly 25 percent lower "mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate" than states that prohibited medical cannabis.
Of course, toxic-waste-dressed-in-a-cheap-suit Attorney General Jeff Sessions still considers cannabis a gateway drug, so don't expect the feds to tout or even consider this as a piece in the puzzle to solve the problem. But as greater availability to cannabis grows, fewer people may end up dying, which is always a good thing.