Prescription drug overdose deaths are on the rise, prompting some to call for tougher laws on painkiller abuse and less stringent regulation of marijuana possession.
The National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released data showing that 17,465 people died as a result of overdoses from heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs in 2014. This staggering number of needless deaths is dwarfed, however, by the total number of prescription drug-related ODs, which topped 25,000 in 2014. That number represents an all-time high for prescription drug overdoses, a 14-percent increase over the previous high for a year.
CDC figures account for all manner of painkillers and prescription opioids, including hydrocodone, oxycodone and codeine. More than two-thirds of the total number of prescription drug ODs involve painkiller abuse, with benzodiazepines (often called “benzos”) accounting for nearly 8,000 deaths. To put that figure in perspective, it is significantly higher than the total number of yearly cocaine-related overdose deaths, and almost as high as the overall number of heroin-related overdose deaths each year.
Tragically, prescription drug use and abuse, as well as related overdose deaths, have risen at a steady rate since 2001, when fewer than 10,000 people died as a result of painkiller ODs.
Meanwhile, the total number of confirmed marijuana overdose deaths in 2014 and 2015 remained at zero. The sentiment that marijuana use should not be outlawed has prompted many to call for its legalization. In fact, the push to legalize marijuana across the U.S. has led voters and lawmakers in 23 states to legalize pot use in at least a limited form.
Although New Jersey has legalized medical marijuana sales and possession, it is still against the law in most instances for a person in NJ to possess, or use, marijuana. In fact, consequences for conviction of a pot charge are severe.
To learn more, read the Huffington Post article, “Here’s How Many People Fatally Overdosed on Marijuana Last Year.”
If you or a loved one has been arrested for simple possession of marijuana, prescription drug possession or any other drug crime in New Jersey, you need a strong criminal defense attorney on your side. The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Lombardi and Lombardi, P.A. are prepared to fight your drug crime charges and help you avoid the most serious penalties. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.