US Attorney General: Trafficking rings don't lead to heroin addicts. It’s the household medicine cabinet.
Prescription painkillers can have a greater chance of leading to heroin addictions than marijuana, according to the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
“In so many cases, it isn’t trafficking rings that introduce a person to opioids. It’s the household medicine cabinet. That’s the source," Lynch recently told high school students in Richmond, Kentucky,
“When we talk about heroin addiction, we usually, as we have mentioned, are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin."
Lynch added, “It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids – it is true that if you tend to experiment with a lot of things in life, you may be inclined to experiment with drugs, as well. But it’s not like we’re seeing that marijuana as a specific gateway.”
As you can see by this chart from the International Business Times, many perceive painkillers as "harmless." Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's safe. A large percentage of teenagers who abuse painkillers simply get the drugs from their parents' medicine cabinet.
Critics may argue painkillers are a heroin gateway because they're easily accessible and if marijuana becomes decriminalized, it would also promote drug use. Not true. New research backs up the U.S. Attorney General's claim and goes even further to suggest legalizing marijuana may reduce opoid abuse. A study the Journal of the American Medical Association found a 25 percent drop in opoid-related deaths in states that have legalized medical marijuana.
According to the study's lead author, "States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws. Examination of the association between medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in each year after implementation of the law showed that such laws were associated with a lower rate of overdose mortality that generally strengthened over time.”