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January 2006
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Maine officials explode from hyperbole

All the Maine news outlets are covering the fact that, while final facts are not yet available, 2005 will be the year to see drug deaths exceed motor vehicle deaths. Politicians were quick to explode with wrath:
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Gov. John Baldacci took aim at the Bush White House, saying it continued to turn its back on the suffering of Maine families. He noted that federal funding to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency has been cut by 40 percent. […]
Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara also blamed the federal government for “walking away” from its responsibility, citing that the drugs killing Mainers were federally regulated narcotics and were being trafficked across state lines, a federal offense. […]
Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe called Washington’s response to the drug problem “shameful.”

So what do we actually know? There are projected to be 178 drug-related deaths. 140 of them were accidental overdoses. The majority of those were methadone, and the majority of those were from the pill form, prescribed by physicians for pain.
And if we look further…

Physicians have become cautious when prescribing OxyContin because of its potential for abuse, and have switched to drugs such as methadone and morphine for pain, Kim Johnson, director of the Office of Substance Abuse, said.
“The drug of choice is still OxyContin, but it’s not available,” Johnson said.
Hence, methadone and morphine deaths are on the rise.

Oops.
It looks like what they don’t need is more federal government assistance.

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