A record 70,237 Americans died in 2017 due to drug overdoses according to findings just released in a disappointing report produced by the National Safety Council.
A deadly surge in the popularity of a synthetic opioid called Fentanyl – said to be 30-50x more potent than street heroin – has had such a devastating impact on our society that the life expectancy for Americans, which had enjoyed a relatively steady climb since the 1940’s has suddenly fallen into a disturbing decline and now rests at 78.6 years.
But the morsel from the report that is garnering the most attention in the media is the fact that in today’s America you are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than you are in an automobile accident.
You read that right – the lifetime chances that a U.S. resident will die in a car crash is roughly 1 in 103, and the chances that they will die of an opioid overdose has dropped to a stunning 1 in 96.
Next time you are at the grocery store, or a cannabis expo, or find yourself among some other gathering of people, consider the odds that one out of every 100 of them will die in a car crash and another will die from abusing painkillers.
This is, obviously, unacceptable in a civilized society.
Surely, something must be done, right?
Well, we’ve seen innovation and regulation increase exponentially over the past several decades when it comes to automobile safety. Manufacturers are held to very high standards to ensure that drivers and passengers in their vehicles get from Point A to Point B in one piece.
The 1960s introduced us to seatbelts
In the 1970s, it was the wonder of anti lock brakes
The 80s saw mandatory seat belt laws and a focus on drunk driving and the 90’s gave us airbags
So far in the 2000s we’ve seen massive improvements in electronic stability, the implementation of severe penalties for distracted driving, the standardization of rear view cameras … and we’re even on the verge of mainstreaming self-driving vehicles.
All of this has been done in the name of public safety.
As for opioids, it’s just been a continual ramping up of potency to the point where now a confirmed killer such as Fentanyl pales in comparison to the new breed of synthetic opioids like Carfentanil which is said to be 100x more potent than Fentanyl.
Just 20 millionths of one gram of this “medicine” will kill a human being and can tranquilize a 5-ton elephant. In fact, over the course of the past few decades, that was what the drug was used for – knocking out large mammals.
The raw power of this manmade agent even has U.S. Homeland Security officials speculating that it could be weaponized by terrorists as some sort of WMD after the Russian military used an aerosol version of the drug to subdue Chechen hostage takers in a 2012 standoff.
This same week we also got news that the costs of lifesaving prescription drugs are rising faster than the inflation rate in the U.S. In other words, the drugs you need to stay healthy continue to cost more dollars, but every dollar in your pocket is worth less and less.
This unsustainable trend is not just appearing with experimental or innovative new drugs on the market, but established brands are also getting in on the gravy train and jacking up prices for patients who have counted on a fixed price to fit their fixed budget.
As a consequence, many Americans are stretching or rationing their medication beyond the supplied instructions and the results can be fatal.
The Trump Administration is claiming that under their policies, 2018 saw the largest drop in prescription drug prices in 46 years, but in just the first 10 days of this new year we saw 490 different prescription drugs receive substantial price increases.
Meanwhile… cocaine, methamphetamine, and Fentanyl all enjoy a Schedule II status under the federal Controlled Substances Act while the big, bad marijuana plant – now totally legal for adults in 11 states and medical patients in 33 states – remains listed under Schedule I, meaning that the DEA has deemed that cannabis has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”.
Recent speculation from a top Wall Street analyst predicts that the domestic cannabis market in the U.S. will reach a value of $80 Billion annually by the year 2030.
That may sound like a highly influential number, but to put it in perspective, consider the fact that Johnson & Johnson alone raked in roughly $72 Billion in 2016.
The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, THC, and the full spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant can alleviate many of the same ailments being treated with these mind numbing, highly addictive, and deadly synthetic pills.
The difference is, one of them you can grow in a closet, garage, or backyard and that has Big Pharma racing to cash in on victims while our complicit federal government continues to fail us on cannabis reform.