Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren wrote the director for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) this week urging them to investigate whether medical marijuana can help turn around the nation’s disastrous prescription painkiller epidemic.
She is also asking the agency to finalize its guidance to physicians on the dos and don’ts of prescribing pain drugs. Warren had said in the letter, “I strongly urge you to finalize the CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain as soon as possible.” She added, “Explore every opportunity and tool available.”
The facts are that via the CDC’s own statistics, nearly two million Americans, aged 12 or older, either abused or were dependent on opioid painkillers in 2013. Every day in the United States, 44 people die as a result of prescription opioid overdose. Drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2013. Among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes.
There were 43,982 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2013. Of these, 22,767 (51.8%) were related to prescription drugs. Of the 22,767 deaths relating to prescription drug overdose in 2013, 16,235 (71.3%) involved opioid painkillers, and 6,973 (30.6%) involved benzodiazepines. People who died of drug overdoses often had a combination of benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers in their bodies
In September 2015, Warren stated she was open to the legalization of medical marijuana. She had said, “A couple of states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Frankly, I think we ought to be learning what we can from those states.”