Late last month Donald Trump's administration declared the rising death rate from opioid overdoses a national public health emergency. Thirty-three thousand lives were lost to this scourge in 2015, and early reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paint an even bleaker picture for 2016.
Policymakers working for the president are doubling down on a policy aimed at restricting opioids. But this policy isn't working. In fact, it might even be contributing to abusers' switch to more potent drugs such as heroin in recent years. Yet there is an approach that can truly curb the rising rate of overdose deaths that is staring them right in the face: legalizing marijuana.
According to research published earlier this month in the American Journal of Public Health, Colorado's legalization of recreational marijuana in 2014 coincided with a 6.5 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths.