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Jason Rantz

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Rantz: King, Snohomish County drug dealers, addicts adapting to lax enforcement

A little over 2 grams of meth. Pierce County Sheriff's detectives took this evidence into custody in October 2018, along with scales and bags used for dealing the drug. (Pierce County Sheriff's Office)

It’s no secret that in King County, under Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, drug dealers and addicts know they won’t get popped for hanging onto one gram or less of heroin or meth. It’s a horrible policy that has taken its toll on the county. Now, the secret is out in Snohomish County.

Under the previous Snohomish County prosecutor, Mark Roe, his office wouldn’t charge felony possession cases where an individual had under two grams of controlled substances. Now, the new prosecutor, Adam Cornell, is dealing with more and more law enforcement officers and politicians asking him to end the policy.

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The concern from officials is that criminals and addicts are taking advantage of the system. In the Everett Herald, reporter Noah Haglund explains:

One man shrugged off the meth he was carrying last year, telling a Marysville police officer he’d be fine.

After all, it was less than 2 grams.

Another man detained by Mukilteo police asked if they could make his meth disappear — or at least make it weigh less than 2 grams.

The magic number has turned up over and over again as local police and sheriff’s deputies have interacted with criminal suspects, according to arrest reports. And it appears to be influencing standard practice for drug dealers. As one cop in Everett noted, carrying smaller amounts of drugs not only lessens the chance of being robbed — it helps avoid prosecution.

Cornell is considering a policy change in Snohomish County. He should immediately implement it before what happened in King County happens there.

Of course, this policy has supporters from those who view this through a Progressive activist lens.

“Holding the most vulnerable accountable without first investing in stability and wellness, we’re just re-creating the problems we had in the 1990s or the early aughts,” Kathleen Kyle, managing director of the Snohomish County Public Defender Association, told the Herald. “It’s just a huge cost, to what end? A deputy prosecuting attorney doesn’t cure drug addiction.”

To what end? It’s to jail predatory drug dealers that our ruining our neighborhoods and breaking up families. Is that a justifiable enough end, Kyle?

She’s right that a prosecutor won’t cure drug addiction. But that’s a red herring. Does she only support policies that cure drug addiction? Refusing to prosecute also doesn’t lead to curing drug addiction. Her point is ridiculous.

When criminals or addicts know they can get away with something, they’ll take advantage of it. Drug dealers will carry less on their person, while stashing bigger quantities nearby, and the scourge of the opioid epidemic won’t get any better.

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Moreover, a policy like this takes away a key piece of leverage cops can use over an addict to press them to find out where they’re illegally purchasing their drugs. It’s why cops hate these policies. If they know they won’t be prosecuted for not cooperating with police, you make it harder for law enforcement to catch predatory drug dealers.

If you got rid of this policy, Cornell won’t suddenly prosecute every low-level drug case. His office isn’t staffed or funded for that. But he can be more selective and prosecute where it makes sense and will have a bigger impact on the community. He’ll still be thoughtful. This policy? Reckless and dangerous.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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