by Ben Adlin
Right now in Washington State, possession of an illegal drug is in most cases a felony, punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and a maximum five years in prison. For people with drug use disorders or casual users who are arrested and convicted, that can lead to a crush of other consequences, including difficulty finding a job, securing housing, or qualifying for all sorts of public benefits.
For some, those obstacles lead them to return to drugs — often landing them back in the criminal justice system. Others end up victim to a ballooning overdose crisis that currently kills tens of thousands of people each year and appears to have only gotten worse during the pandemic.
Advocates of drug reform have long argued that criminalizing use is a clumsy, ultimately harmful way to treat what they say should be viewed as a public health problem. On Friday they’ll finally get a hearing in the state legislature as Washington lawmakers consider a new bill that would eliminate all penalties for possessing or using drugs and instead expand outreach, treatment, and recovery services.Continue reading Washington Bill to Decriminalize All Drugs Will Receive First Public Hearing on Friday