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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Decriminalization Measure For All Drugs Proposed In Washington State

Drug-reform advocates, doctors, and politicians initiated a ballot measure to remove the penalties for possessing drugs of any kind in the state of Washington. Experts say that the current model of criminalizing possession of controlled substances, such as cocaine, heroin, and magic mushrooms, people with substance use disorders have a very narrow road for recovery. Supporters of Initiative 1922 says the measure would help people with substance use disorders.

Activists say that the war on drugs needs to end.  I-1922 is heading to be placed on a statewide ballot this year. It is being headed up by a coalition group called Commit to Change WA. The proposed ballot has a budget attached to it. The initiative would dedicate $141 million in state funding each year to substance use treatment and prevention. Studies over the years have shown that treatment save money over incarceration.

The funds allotted to the measure would come from cannabis taxes the state is already receiving. Treatment experts say that people jailed for drug possession often do not have the government support to get back on track.

Some may call this a drug legalizer measure. This ballot initiative however would not legalize drugs. Legalizing is a different framework that sets up guidelines for sales and manufacturing. There is a separate ballot measure this year that would legalize psilocybin mushrooms.

Studies from drug reform organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance shows that criminalization has not worked. Arresting people only increased the jail and prison population. There is also a racial element to it. Blacks, for instance, do drugs similar to whites but are targeted more, arrested in higher number, and given higher sentences.

Jail and prison instead of treatment subject addicts to a very high risk of overdose or overdose death when they are released. I-1922 would decriminalize the possession of drugs in Washington state, including opiates, psychedelics, stimulants, and other controlled substances. However, police could still seize the drugs once found on a person. That may even be an issue with some types of addictions.

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.

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