Rantz: Democrats shocked to learn their drug legalization plan is deadly

Jul 25, 2023, 5:55 PM

Washington drugs overdose...

A homeless man checks on a friend who had passed out after smoking fentanyl at a homeless encampment on March 12, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Democrats who helped legalize drugs are shocked to learn Washington is leading the way in fatal overdose deaths. If only they can figure out how to stem the tide.

Senator Maria Cantwell is soon up for re-election, so she’s emerged from her office where she pretends to represent voters. She’s holding roundtables on the drug overdose crisis in strategically selected areas where she can get free, easy, and widespread news coverage promoting her efforts.

These roundtables are little more than political theater. Nothing is learned and the reasons for the drug overdose epidemic are mostly ignored. But it’s especially troublesome that Cantwell is talking with some who helped create this mess to begin with. And all these roundtables do is give them cover for policies and approaches that have killed scores of people.

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Washington leads way on fentanyl overdoses — by choice

With a 24% year-over-year surge in fatal overdoses (from February 2022 through February 2023), Washington is leading the country according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. The situation the state finds itself in is by choice.

Washington Democrats legalized drugs when they decided to stop prosecuting and arresting for personal drug use. After the Blake decision, which invalidated the state’s felony drug possession laws, radicals representing Seattle activist interests put a two-year pause on enforcing the law. Begrudgingly, Democrats were forced to at least make drug possession a gross misdemeanor, but they only did so after considerable public pressure. By then, the damage was done.

King County continues to lead the state in fatal overdoses. This year the county is sure to beat last year’s 1,000 record-high overdose deaths. Not only was the county first to stop prosecuting for drug crimes, King County Public Health-Seattle and King County led the charge in implementing a harm reduction strategy that hands out drug paraphernalia and enables drug use, rather than focusing on treatment. Where do our tax dollars go? Fentanyl pipes, clean needles, and booty-bumping kits.

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Those who created the problem are feigning interest in a solution

The roundtables featured activists from harm reduction programs, like Tacoma Needle Exchange, and proponents like Dr. Caleb Banta-Green of the University of Washington Center for Addictions, Drugs and Alcohol. Political leaders who have led from behind on the drug crisis, like Mayors Victoria Woodards and Bruce Harrell were featured guests. 

Speakers did a lot of bloviating, offering platitudes, and citing facts we already know. One solution offered? Residents should be ready to treat overdoses, presumably while walking downtown on the way to a Mariners game or heading to the Paramount for a show. But that doesn’t treat the underlying problem. These policymakers and activists don’t want to.

A way to quickly stop the flow of cheap fentanyl into the state is to address the crisis at the border. Democrats, however, don’t acknowledge a crisis exists, while progressives like Rep. Pramila Jayapal push for open borders. We could offer law enforcement tools to go after drug dealers and drug operations. But Democrats, like Attorney General Bob Ferguson, are looking to cut funding to drug task forces. We could also enforce the law, but Harrell and the far-left council are working to find a way to pass an ordinance that makes jail time nearly impossible to impose on criminal addicts, thereby taking away leverage that can be used to push treatment. 

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A national emergency?

Cantwell says she wants the drug overdose epidemic “declared a crisis at the federal level.” But what does that mean other than more funding to the organizations that enable drug use? When then-President Donald Trump declared an opioid epidemic, Democrats responded by legalizing drugs and stopping enforcement. 

Washington won’t see relief without the people responsible acknowledging their role in the epidemic and then stepping aside for serious people to get to work. Law enforcement knows what to do, so we should fund them to do it. And we have treatment approaches that work, but that requires activists to stop handing out pipes and needles.

For any of this to happen, the state needs actual leaders. But the people in charge are more interested in roundtables that get them photographed looking serious and contemplative, than they are in doing the work and disappointing radical activists who want drugs legalized.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the book What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our CitiesSubscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Democrats shocked to learn their drug legalization plan is deadly