Inside Opinion

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Tag: addiction


Mental health sales tax: Tell Tacoma what it’s buying

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Tacoma City Council is moving quietly and quickly toward an increase in the city’s sales tax. It ought to be moving noisily and slowly.

The tenth-of-a-percent tax, which the council could enact Tuesday, is expected to bring in $2.6 million in 2013 and rising amounts thereafter.

It wouldn’t be a lot at the checkout counter – just a penny on a $10 purchase. Its intentions are good: preserving or expanding programs that improve mental health and reduce addiction. But it is a tax, and it needs more public discussion than it’s gotten so far.

One concern is that the council has no clear plan for spending much of the money. Instead of first identifying priorities, then collecting the tax, city officials want to get the tax on the books ASAP. Then they will launch a process to decide how it gets spent.

The haste is driven by desperation. Past councils and administrations have saddled the city with a scary revenue shortfall that threatens deep cuts to police and fire protection, and other vital public services. City funding for human services – homelessness and mental health programs among them – is endangered.

Half of the new tax – $1.3 million a year – could be used initially to replace existing funding for such programs. If the council moves quickly enough ­– by the end of March – it could start collecting the money this July.

Hence the rush. If the schedule slips past this month, collections would slip to October.
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Marijuana ADDICTIVE? No way, man

Posting this antidote to magical thinking to stoke the indignation of the Web’s marijuana fan club. Always entertaining.


About 9% of adults who use marijuana develop an addiction to it. Among people who begin smoking before the age of 18, this number is as high as 17%. Although addiction to marijuana does not cause dramatic physical dependence, it can lead to substantial problems in education, work and relationships. In fact, addiction to marijuana is defined by the inability to stop using despite recognition of harmful consequences. Without harmful consequences, there is no diagnosis of addiction.

The short-term effects

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State must tread lightly in regulating pain control

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

First, do no harm. That Hippocratic maxim should be kept in mind as state government inserts itself more deeply in doctors’ decisions to treat chronic pain.

Alarmed by a surge in the abuse of prescription painkillers and overdose deaths, the 2010 Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill to tighten the regulation of such heavy-duty narcotics as oxycontin and morphine.

On the face of it, there’s nothing to quarrel with in the new law. It requires the state boards that oversee the medical, dental and other health-care professions to come up with new rules for prescribing these drugs.

The rules, to be adopted by June 2011, must include – among other requirements – maximum dosages of painkillers. Doctors who want to exceed the maximums will generally have to consult pain management specialists.
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