During the late 1960’s, the nation seemed divided on feelings about marijuana. You either indulged or you wagged your stern finger at those who smoked marijuana. Today, with nearly half of our country’s states allowing some use of marijuana for medical purposes, people’s perceptions are changing. One of the reasons that many people are changing their minds about marijuana is the consistent harm that prescription drugs are doing to thousands of Americans each year. While prescription drugs are meant to treat and cure minor to severe medical conditions, dangerous drug injuries related to so-called “trusted” prescriptions are occurring daily.
Big Bad Pharma?
When a patient visits his or her doctor and is prescribed a medication for a medical condition, he or she assumes that the drug will be safe. Even when given all the proper information stating potentially dangerous adverse effects, many people take the risk and use the drug. Unfortunately, medication errors, which lead to injury and death, can occur for any number of reasons from improper packaging to patient misuse.
Depending on the type of drug a patient is prescribed, such as a painkiller, he or she may abuse the drug and end up dying of an overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals who become addicted to prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin, while individuals who smoke marijuana are only 1 to 2 times more likely to become addicted to heroin. While this statistic may speak volumes about the potential dangers behind the big pharmaceutical companies, marijuana continues to be the drug that is consistently criminalized.
Marijuana’s Bad Reputation
While Big Pharma continues to distribute, despite the preventable injuries and deaths each year, prisons are overcrowded with prisoners who were sentenced to life without parole because he or she illegally possessed marijuana. While some inmates, with a history of marijuana use, have committed heinous crimes that deserve a lengthy sentence, non-violent “marijuana” criminals are taking up space (and money) that could be used for more serious crimes. Since the days of Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton, when the war on drugs was at an all time high, the nation’s attitude has changed, particularly towards marijuana.
With 23 states already legalizing medical marijuana, hopeful patients living in non-legal states wait in anticipation for the “ok” to used medical marijuana to treat their conditions. Some patients are so desperate that they will uproot and relocate just to find relief that will not cause harm. Until more patients are able to use medical marijuana, they will need to continue taking their potentially dangerous prescribed medications. Their other option would be to cease taking their meds; either decision could have deadly results. While marijuana use continues to have a large “criminal” presence in society and throughout the prison system, there are no substantial record of medical marijuana causing drug related injuries or death.
Big Pharma: The Biggest Offender?
Not only do prescription drugs pose a threat to millions of patients, many prescriptions are overpriced and not covered by insurance, leaving individuals unable to afford a drug their doctor prescribes.