The number of fatal poisonings involving opioid painkillers more than tripled from 1999 to 2006, from 4,000 to 13,800 in one year, according to a new report from the CDC. These drugs – Vicodin, OxyContin, fentanyl, and their relatives – now account for 37 percent of poisoning deaths, up from 21 percent in 1999. And the Associated Press reports that drug deaths now exceed auto accident fatalities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
The drugs that killed nearly 14,000 people in 2006 are, of course, legal medicines. They have been approved for sale by the same federal government that bars medical use of marijuana – for which the count of medically confirmed overdose fatalities remains zero.
This gets even crazier when you consider that – as we’ve pointed out before – there is evidence that use of medical marijuana can help some pain patients reduce their doses of these dangerous and addictive narcotics.