Feds Continue Counteractive Crackdown on Medical Marijuana While Lamenting Painkiller Overdose Deaths
The Associated Press has crunched the numbers regarding the massive increase of oxycodone use in the United States from 2000-2010. It comes as no surprise to us at The Stash, given that the DEA has approved a 1200% increase in oxycodone production during the medical marijuana era. When asked why the DEA would allow such a massive increase in the production of a dangerous Schedule II substance with high potential for abuse, DEA Special Agent Gary Boggs explained that they have to make enough oxy for the abusers to ensure the patients get their share. No, seriously…
“What you have to understand,” Boggs replied, “is that you do have legitimate patients and they’re fishing from the same pond that the illegitimate patients are fishing from, so you have to be cautious not to restrict the quota to the point that when the legitimate parties go to the pool, all the fish haven’t been taken out by the illegitimate parties.”
AP found that in some places, oxycodone sales are up 1600%. Its pharmaceutical cousin, hydrocodone, saw sales rise 300%-500% in some rural areas.
(AP) The increases have coincided with a wave of overdose deaths, pharmacy robberies and other problems in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Florida and other states. Opioid pain relievers, the category that includes oxycodone and hydrocodone, caused 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008 alone, and the death toll is rising, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Nationwide, pharmacies received and ultimately dispensed the equivalent of 69 tons of pure oxycodone and 42 tons of pure hydrocodone in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available. That’s enough to give 40 5-mg Percocets and 24 5-mg Vicodins to every person in the United States. The DEA data records shipments from distributors to pharmacies, hospitals, practitioners and teaching institutions. The drugs are eventually dispensed and sold to patients, but the DEA does not keep track of how much individual patients receive.
The increase is partly due to the aging U.S. population with pain issues and a greater willingness by doctors to treat pain, said Gregory Bunt, medical director at New York’s Daytop Village chain of drug treatment clinics.
Sales are also being driven by addiction, as users become physically dependent on painkillers and begin “doctor shopping” to keep the prescriptions coming, he said.
Another factor would be the presence of workplace pee testing that discriminates against marijuana and in favor of oxycodone use to treat chronic pain. Marijuana metabolites show up on a urine screen for days, weeks, or even months after cessation of use. Oxycodone is flushed from one’s system within 3-to-5 days. And of course, oxycodone is legal, so testing positive for it, as long as you have a prescription, is no cause to not-hire or fire someone. Marijuana use, even if you are in most of the medical marijuana states, is still cause for job discrimination.
That doesn’t mean oxycodone users on the job are safer than marijuana users; to the contrary, oxycodone was found in post-accident testing at roughly twice the rate of random testing and three times the rate of pre-employment testing of workers.
The government claims to fight the War on Drugs in the name of our health and safety, yet they’re complicit in a rising addiction to opioid pharmaceuticals that killed more Americans in 2008 than have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the World Trade Center combined. Meanwhile, the Drug War they are fighting prevents us from applying the cure to this painkiller problem, since we have scientific evidence that cannabis works synergistically with opioids to deliver better pain relief with less pills, we have surveys showing medical marijuana patients are able to reduce their use of painkillers, cannabis has been shown to be a superior remedy for neuropathic pain, and doctors are now suggesting cannabis therapies for pain before opioid therapies because of cannabis’ non-toxicity and low risk of side effects.