Washington State set to change to change drug possession laws

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Drug possession in Washington will be a misdemeanor, not a felony

Many topics were discussed during the Washington State Legislature session this weekend, but it seems that the most relevant was the bill that was passed by the legislators. According to this legislation, drug possession will now be considered a misdemeanor for the next two years. After that, the criminal penalties would go away completely, something that indicates that the legislators could be back at the discussion table.

Two months ago, the state Supreme Court had decided to strike down Washington’s felony drug possession law as unconstitutional, and this move now comes in response to that action. Some of the legislators have expressed that this could become an excellent opportunity to make the war on drugs a thing of the past; however, others believe that it is necessary to reinstate criminal penalties in order to encourage people to enter treatment.

July 1, 2023, is when the criminal penalties in the bill will expire, which means that by then, the state will be without a law against drug possession and new measures will have to be discussed. However, legislators will have all this time to bring together all the ideas and design a replacement that can be more permanent and congruent. For the time being, it has been said that an advisory committee will be convened in order to provide the best suggestions on how to ensure that people with substance use disorders receive adequate care.

After receiving approval Saturday night, the bill now heads to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk, where it will await his signature. “This bill is not an ideal solution, but it is a thoughtful step forward,” said sponsor Senator Manka Dhingra.