Things aren’t going so hot in the public-health war against the opioid epidemic that is sweeping America right now. Deaths from opioid overdoses hit an all-time high in 2014, the latest year for which there’s official data, and there isn’t much reason to believe the epidemic will be over any time soon. New legislation provides for a range of policy options for addressing the epidemic, but all will likely be woefully underfunded. States hit the hardest by the crisis are passing their own legislation to combat it, but the different elements of health-care regulation, criminal law, and public-health law that are involved make the scope of the problem difficult to deal with. All the while, groups like elderly Americansare becoming increasingly vulnerable to opioid addiction.
At the same time, seniors already beset by the fears of the opioid crisis are faced with another major issue: Health care—especially prescription drugs—is getting more and more expensive. The twin issues of prescription drug costs and opioids have been among the country’s most pressing concerns for months, and have defied easy policy solutions. But these problems might have at least one cheap and unmistakably pungent partial solution: medical marijuana. A growing body of research indicates legalization of medical marijuana is associated with lower health-care costs and fewer prescriptions for seniors, and also associated with reduced deaths from opioids.
– The Atlantic