In fact, what is unfolding in Colorado is endangering public safety and health. On March 11, a college student jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony after eating a marijuana-laced cookie that apparently caused him to hallucinate. On April 14, a Denver man shot and killed his wife while she was frantically calling 911 for help after he ate marijuana-laced candy that again apparently caused hallucinations. On April 21, a Greeley, Colo. fourth grader was caught selling marijuana that he got from relatives.
Prescription painkillers may lead to opiate addiction. Specifically, two widely prescribed medicines such as Vicodin and OxyContin that are used to treat pain may put patients at risk for addiction or prescription drug theft. A constituent recently relayed a situation in which an acquaintance paid an unannounced visit to her friend’s home after her back surgery. Only later did the patient realize the visitor had stolen her prescription pain medication to supply an opiate addiction. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than two-thirds of those who abuse prescription drugs obtain them through a friend or relative for whom the drug was legally prescribed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. In Iowa, deaths attributable to the abuse of prescription pain medication have jumped in the last decade, rising from eight in 2003 to 52 in 2012.
In 2010, I worked with Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota to pass the bipartisan “Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act” to allow for communities to establish “take back” programs so patients may safely dispose of old and unused medicines. In the last four years, more than 4.1 million pounds of unwanted, unused and expired prescription meds have been collected in “take back” days that occur in the spring and fall in communities across the country.