Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: drugs

July
6th

Immigration, drug cartels and a Lakewood murder

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Still need a reason to look kindly on immigration reform? Would a defeat for Mexican drug cartels do the trick?

Some Americans might still have the perception that Mexico’s depraved drug lords are pretty much preoccupied with fighting each other and their government, with some thuggery spilling over into Arizona and other border states.

If only. Cartel operatives and contractors have thoroughly penetrated the United States, and many of them are Mexican criminals who camouflage themselves as ordinary Mexicans who crossed the border for jobs. The fact that so many of the

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June
16th

Heroin: Unintended consequence of meth, Rx drug crackdown

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Think of a heroin user and what comes to mind? A gaunt addict in some flophouse with a needle hanging out of his arm?

How about an Oscar winner? Or a billionaire’s grandson? Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman just got out of rehab for a heroin addiction, and the heir to financier T. Boone Pickens died of a heroin overdose earlier this year.

Do an Internet news search of “heroin,” and one fact becomes clear: The opiate — which can be smoked, snorted or injected — is making a comeback. In cities across

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Dec.
13th

‘Meth mouth’: Not a pretty sight

Today’s editorial on meth addiction was a natural for me to write because of an experience I had about four years ago.

I had just come out of a store in a Lakewood strip mall and had opened my car door to get in, when I heard someone behind me saying something. I turned around and almost gasped out loud.

Standing there was a woman – I can’t even estimate her age – with straggly hair, a face covered with sores and the worst teeth I’ve ever seen. She asked if I could spare some money.

I think I

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Dec.
12th

In concern over pot, don’t forget about meth


The Multnomah County (Ore.) Sheriff’s Department website includes before-and-after photos of meth addicts. The photo at right was taken 2.5 years after the one at left.

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

With their open sores, sunken cheeks, glazed-over eyes and decaying teeth, the faces of meth addicts bear a striking resemblance to ones in a popular TV series – “The Walking Dead.”

Law enforcement agencies and treatment providers want the public to see these zombie-like faces and to understand that the horrible toll meth takes on users doesn’t happen over decades. Before-and-after photos on the Multnomah County (Ore.) Sheriff’s Department and rehabs.com websites chronicle the physical damage meth addiction can cause in a short time, sometimes less than two years.
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Feb.
7th

Drug companies should step up to disposal problems

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

We’re all guilty of it – squirreling leftover medicine away on the off chance we might need it someday. When we go to use it, we discover it’s years past its expiration date. So we dump it in the garbage can or, if we’re feeling more responsible, flush it down the toilet.

Neither option – keeping it or dumping it – is a good one. When unused medication isn’t disposed of, it can poison children. When it’s disposed of improperly, it can poison the environment.

What’s needed is a safe, easy, low-cost way of properly disposing of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication. That’s where Substitute Senate Bill 5234 comes in.
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Dec.
5th

Legislators need clear picture of WestNET’s drug-case results

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

One of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget cuts during the current special session includes trimming the number of drug task forces in the state from 19 to 12.

She doesn’t suggest which seven should be axed, but after reading Sean Robinson’s report in Sunday’s News Tribune, we’d like to suggest a likely candidate: the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team – WestNET – based in Kitsap County.

The task forces, which receive both state and federal funds, are supposed to focus on big dealers and drug-trafficking networks. And while WestNET has had some successes, those were the exceptions. Robinson found that the task force spent an inordinate amount of time and resources going after small-time offenders.
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Oct.
5th

Easy green cards have discredited medical pot

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Restoring credibility to medical marijuana in Washington will require separating drug-seekers from the seriously ill people who may genuinely need it.

Anyone who cares about the latter should be anxious to prevent recreational users and abusers from discrediting the whole system – as is happening in Tacoma on a large scale.

For the last two years, pot-lovers across the state have found it increasingly easy to get the so-called green cards that protect them from the law. Tacoma officials have accommodated them by tolerating a proliferation of illegal marijuana stores that now – according to licensing records – greatly outnumber the city’s pharmacies.

That’s the visible end of the sham, but it’s not the headwater. Upstream, the industry is sustained by ever-growing numbers of common marijuana smokers who’ve discovered how easy it is get authorization papers on flimsy pretexts.

The News Tribune’s Rob Carson, for example, reported Sunday that, after walking into a Tacoma marijuana outlet, he was able to get medical authorization via the Internet from a nurse practitioner in another part of the state.

State law permits providers to authorize marijuana to treat debilitating or intractable pain that can’t be relieved by other treatments. Carson’s long-distance nurse quickly recommended marijuana for shoulder discomfort he normally handled with ibuprofen.

The medical ethics of too many pot docs are a joke. Supposed professionals recommend marijuana to the vast majority of “patients” they see, and they offer their customers their money back if they don’t walk away with a license to use. It’s all about the cash.
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Nov.
9th

A drug court for Tacoma’s veterans

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Drug court is one of the best ideas ever to hit Pierce County’s criminal justice system. It’s just been joined by another great idea: veterans drug court.

The county’s drug court – one of the nation’s first, in 1994 – operates on the premise that treating addicts instead of merely jailing them works better for everyone. Substance-abusers accused of drug- or alcohol-connected crimes – small-time trafficking, theft, drunk driving, for example – must voluntarily opt in. They waive their right to a trial and accept the maximum sentence for their offense.

The sentence is then suspended on condition they follow a strict regimen designed to break their addiction: treatment, participation in group meetings, random urine tests, avoidance of any criminal activity. The Pierce County Alliance runs the treatment side of things.

If they fail, they get the book thrown at them. If they succeed, the charge is dismissed. Studies have shown the program to be much more effective than jail in preventing relapses and further crimes, and saving the taxpayers’ money.

The veterans’ drug court, announced last week, is being launched with the help of a three-year, $900,000 grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. The new program will be able to tap into the treatment and health resources of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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