While the use and sale of drugs in Washington state are still marked as illegal, changes made have led many to not think so as of 2021.
As of the start of the year, it seems to be nigh on impossible to be taken into custody for drug possession in Washington state in response to the state’s newly passes drug laws, which have been called, by multiple police officials, as almost entirely “unenforceable.”
Law enforcement officials can no longer arrest a person for possession of drugs until it is the third offence of it that they have been caught for, a piece of information that has been found to be a very hard metric to track as drug overdoses in the state skyrocket to insane levels.
These new changes started back in February when the Washington Supreme Court
issued a ruling that the statute for the state making drug possession a felony was entirely unconstitutional which effectively decriminalized drugs as a whole for quite a few months.
Then, in May, the state proceeded to replace the old law with an entirely new statute that made the possession of drugs only a misdemeanour. As seen under the new law, the first two times that police officials manage to catch someone with drugs, they must issue the person a warning while also giving them the contact information for local rehabilitation resources. On any third stopping for drug possession, the people involved are then allowed to be arrested and then charged, but the new statute still sees the end result of no charge at all as the much more preferred outcome. The new law has an exception, however, if the amount of illegal drugs held is very large, which suggested ties to possible drug trafficking, in which case the officials can make the arrest with no prior warnings. The new law also includes what is called a “sunset clause,” which means that the state legislature has exactly two years to invent and ratify a new, more permanent, solution.
State lawmakers in Washington who were in support of the state Supreme Court’s ruling to get rid of the old drug laws have argued that the state has needed a more compassionate approach to how it deals with drug addicts.
“They, in essence, ended the war on drugs,” stated state Sen. Manka Dhingra, who is a Democrat from the city of Redmond which is just east of Seattle.
Under the new law, a 19-year-old in possession of a user grade amount of illegal drugs could end up getting in far less trouble than if the same person was caught in possession of tobacco or even alcohol, and just may get the help they need. The current maximum penalty for the underage possession of alcohol in Washington state is upwards of a year in jail and a 5,000 fine.