Washington State cannabis activists’ push for decriminalization put off a year

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The activists decide to wait until next year to give the effort more chance of success

A group of cannabis activists based in Washington State, Treatment First WA, have changed their plans to tackle the effort to decriminalize drugs as well as expand the current treatment of substance misuse. They said that will no longer try to have the policy change added to this November’s ballot but, instead, they will be putting pressure on lawmakers to enact a reform next year, they announced this past Wednesday.

The main reason for changing the program is the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which made it impossible for them to gather all the required signatures to pass the initiative to voters in November. Also, there is a high risk of a second wave of cases that could be even bigger, and that might end up stopping any efforts that are resumed. The activists said they would “redirect our energy to securing passage of the Treatment and Recovery Act as a bill introduced by Washington State Legislators in the 2021 session, which begins January 11.”

“Although we’re discontinuing efforts to place the Treatment and Recovery Act on the November 2020 general election ballot as Initiative 1715, we will continue working to replace arrests and incarceration for drug use with treatment, recovery, and education,” added the group in an email blast to supporters, which is backed by the ACLU of Washington.

This initiative was supposed to have people who police find with drugs to be referred to a mandatory service assessment, within 72 hours of the incident. The proposal also included redirecting some existing income from marijuana sales to fund the expansion of the state’s drug treatment programs.