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Locally, the distressing and growing number of untimely deaths from drugs is regularly evident in obituaries.

Among the photos and life summaries of those who passed away at age 89, 75 or 92, listing jobs, pastimes, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, are photos of those who died too soon, often reported euphemistically as “passed away suddenly,” gone at age 34, 46 or 51.

The Drug Enforcement Administration announced this month that Pennsylvania had 4,642 drug deaths in 2016, up from 3,377 in 2015 and from 2,741 in 2014. The rates of increase in drug deaths in Southwestern Pennsylvania counties have been greater than in the state overall.

The McClatchy D.C. bureau on Feb. 22, 2016, reported on a proposal to fight opioid abuse: “Pennsylvania could consider new state regulations to ensure all medical and dental students are taught safe addiction and pain management options before they’re licensed to practice, says Gov. Tom Wolf. Such a measure, Wolf said, could reduce the incidents of doctors over-prescribing painkillers and opioids, which sometimes lead to fatal drug overdoses — a growing problem nationally.”

Newsweek’s March 16 story “Which states will legalize marijuana next? Pennsylvania marijuana industry could replace vanishing steel jobs” summarized other Pennsylvania politicians’ upbeat analysis regarding pot: “A Pennsylvania mayor said marijuana could successfully replace many of the jobs lost during the downfall of the state’s steel industry. Community members in Braddock … have already requested state approval to build a marijuana cultivation site on a vacant lot that was once occupied by an industrial steel building. Town Mayor John Fetterman told local media … the potential grow facility would be a ‘giant step forward’ for the city’s economy. … A neighboring town, McKeesport, has also given support to a potential medical marijuana company hoping to establish a

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