LOCAL NEWS

WA introduces ballot measure to decriminalize drug possession

May 6, 2022, 6:02 AM | Updated: 10:20 am
Follow @http://twitter.com/Mynorthwest...

Drug-reform advocates, doctors, and politicians have initiated a ballot measure, Initiative 1922, to remove the penalties for possessing drugs of any kind in the state of Washington, including cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Led by a coalition group called Commit to Change WA, the proposed ballot has a budget attached to it with the initiative dedicating $141 million in state funding each year to substance use treatment and prevention.

SPD will no longer make arrests for drug possession after state Supreme Court ruling

The funds allotted to the measure would come from cannabis taxes the state is already receiving.

“Oregon passed an initiative a couple years ago, so they’re in the process of doing it,” Matt Driscoll of the Tacoma News Tribune said on the Gee and Ursula Show on KIRO Newsradio. “One of the things they’ve found is, in fact, arrests have gone down. They have and there has not been a substantial increase in drug use. That’s the other fear that people often have. It’s an understandable fear.”

Oregon voted yes on Measure 110, which started Feb. 1, 2021, to remove criminal penalties for possession of drugs and expand access to health services.

“Because of this measure, there are thousands of people in Oregon that will never have to experience the devastating life-long barriers of having a drug arrest on their record, which disproportionately and unjustly affected Black and Indigenous people due to targeted policing,” said Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, in a prepared statement. “Because of this measure, there is more than $300 million in funding that did not exist before being funneled into community organizations to provide adequate and culturally competent care that people desperately need.”

A year after the landmark legislation passed in Oregon, more than 16,000 Oregon residents accessed services through the new grant program, but less than 1% were reported to have entered treatment, according to updated state data.

Most of those who accessed the grant-funded services last year, nearly 60%, engaged with harm reduction programs such as syringe exchanges and naloxone distribution.

“From our perspective, 60% of the people accessing harm reduction services means that we have more people alive today because of these funds, and because of the services that we’re invested in,” Tera Hurst, executive director of the Health Justice Recovery Alliance, said in a news release.

Driscoll cites similar legislation in Europe and South America has not led to an automatic increase in drug use.

“Now, anything that you might catch a charge for related to possession is still a crime,” Driscoll said. “You can’t sell it, you can’t distribute it. If you’re involved with a robbery, you’re still charged with the robbery. It’s just those simple possession charges.”

After the interview with Driscoll ended, Gee Scott spoke candidly about the initiative to his audience.

“Probably the most frustrating thing is because so many people making these decisions do not understand what it’s like to have a drug problem or to be an addict,” Gee said. “And thinking this idea that if you make the punishment harder, then they won’t do drugs. I don’t think in our lifetime we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”

Dori: Metro driver worries about bus passengers’ exposure to secondhand drug smoke

Sponsors of the initiative have until July 8 to collect almost 325,000 valid signatures of registered Washington voters to qualify for a spot on the statewide ballot in November.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Local News

Lynnwood Clinic...
L.B. Gilbert

Lynnwood opioid clinic receives DOH license amid controversy

The Washington DOH just gave the final approval for a proposed opioid treatment clinic to open in Lynnwood.
10 hours ago
Judge, pot shop robbery...
Lisa Brooks

WA Corrections pays $600K settlement in sexual harassment lawsuit

Washington's Corrections Department has agreed to pay $600,000 dollars to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former intern.
10 hours ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Shawn Garrett, KIRO 7 News

‘A double life’: Skagit County pastor accused of dealing drugs, money laundering

A Skagit County pastor who “admitted he leads a double life” was arrested in January with nearly three pounds of methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine
10 hours ago
A shopper checks out an item in a Target store in Pittsburgh on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. On Friday, t...
Associated Press

US inflation and consumer spending cooled in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge eased further in December, and consumer spending fell — the latest evidence that the Fed’s series of interest rate hikes are slowing the economy. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department showed that prices rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from a 5.5% year-over-year […]
10 hours ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Deborah Horne, KIRO 7 News

Western Washington Gets Real: Pacific Northwest native wowing the opera world

Her astonishing voice has been heard around the world, but it was discovered and nurtured right here in the Pacific Northwest.
10 hours ago
boeing...
Nicole Jennings

Seattle attorney representing 737 MAX victims’ families weighs in on Boeing arraignment

An attorney representing 50 of the families of victims of the Boeing 737 MAX crashes gives his take on the fraud charge against Boeing.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
WA introduces ballot measure to decriminalize drug possession