Washington State’s drug decriminalization bill begins to make progress

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Jail time would no longer be assessed for possession above legal limits if the bill passes

A state law criminalizing drug possession has been quite controversial recently in Washington. First, there was a court ruling, and now reform legislators are opting to hear a drug decriminalization bill.

Senate Bill 5476 comes in response to the decision that was made by the state Supreme Court two months ago. For the moment, it has been said that this legislation has a good chance of being approved before the legislative session comes to an end. If this bill is approved, many changes could be seen in the state, including the punitive war on drugs, as well as a public health approach to the use of these types of substances.

According to the proposals in this bill, there would be no change from the existing decriminalization law for possession of small amounts for personal use by adults over the age of 21. Adults who are found with anything under the threshold amounts would be subject to evaluation and treatment, but would not be subject to any criminal or civil penalties. A fine of $125 will be issued to any person who chooses to open or use controlled substances in public.

With the money collected from these fines, the state would be able to defray the administrative costs of the current abrupt decriminalization. Even so, this new bill plans to reinstate criminal charges for anyone who fails to abide by the possession limit. Those who do so would be subject to a Class C felony, while persons possessing substances under the age of 21 would be subject to a gross misdemeanor.