Legislation has once again been pre-filed in Washington State to remove felony charges for personal possession of illegal substances. Representative Sherry Appleton (D, 23rd district), is spearheading the bill, which would reduce personal drug possession charges from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Under the current Washington State Law, personal possession of a controlled substance other than cannabis is a felony that can carry a 5 year prison sentence. If the bill were passed, charges would be reduced to a misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of 90 days.
“Those who are caught with drugs in possession need assessment and treatment " not felony records,” says Jim Moeller (Speaker Pro Tempore, 49th district) in support of the bill. Removing felony status from personal drug possession cases would affect over 9,000 cases per year in Washington, potentially saving the state millions that could be better spent elsewhere.
When asked why he agreed to co-sponsor the bill, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (Deputy Majority Whip, 34th District) said, “It is past time for the Legislature to catch up to the public and to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence that shows that the best way to reduce crime and drug use is to take a public health-based approach, not a criminal approach, to fighting the problem.”
We at Leafbuyer fully believe that decriminalization of personal drug possession is a mandatory step towards ending the unknowable harm caused by the Drug War in the United States. Hopefully, should this bill pass, it will help spur a wave of similar legislation across the country that would significantly improve the massive problems facing the American Justice System.
In a recent election, California voters passed Proposition 47, which is similar to the newly proposed Washington bill. Prop 47 passed by nearly a 20 point margin, reducing the felony status for personal drug possession cases and other nonviolent crimes.