Sunday, October 9, 2011

new mexico has highest drug overdose rate in the country

new mexico now  leads the country with the most deaths by drug overdose per capita with 26.63 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the latest cdc data.  new mexico’s overdose rate is more than double the national average. 

meanwhile,  the fbi annual crime report released in september shows that last year, more americans were arrested for drugs than any other crime.   driving under the influence, another drug-related offense, placed second.  here in new mexico , 8,814 people were arrested for drugs and 11,301 people were busted for d.u.i.  

the ever-skyrocketing number of drug arrests have done little to stem overdoses. nationally, the overdose rate has nearly doubled in the last ten years.  12.7 people per 100,000 now die from overdose.  in 2000, that number was 6.7.  for the first time in history, more people die by od in than in car crashes.   

it's prescription pills that are responsible for the current spike in overdoses.  narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety meds are responsible for more overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined.  the incidence of overdose parallels the increasing prescription of these medications:  vicodin is now the most widely prescribed drug in the u.s.  

the american medical establishment has as big a drug problem as the rest of the country. given this track record, why are we trying to medicalize marijuana?  trusting doctors with drugs is like trusting banks with money.  

despite the overdose statistics, the federal government is now aggressively prosecuting marijuana users, and even state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.  a major crackdown in underway by u.s. attorneys in california.  no word on how this general federal pressure will affect new mexico’s small medical marijuana program, but one california ruling  may have local repercussions.  the i.r.s. is using a part of the tax code that was originally designed to hurt drug cartels.  that code is now being used to bar state-licensed dispensaries from taking any business-related tax deductions.  

while the current federal government cracks down, former new mexico governor gary johnson,  legalization advocate and  still flickeringly viable presidential aspirant, is actively courting the stoner vote.   in an interview with outside magazine, johnson calls marijuana users the “largest untapped voting bloc in the country.”  

asks johnson, “a hundred million americans have smoked marijuana. you think they want to be considered criminals?”

hell, no.  we want to be accepted, just like any pill popper.