By Ben Adlin - Marijuana Moment,
Washington State lawmakers on Thursday introduced landmark legislation to decriminalize possessing small amounts of all drugs and expand treatment services for people with substance use disorders, part of a growing trend of U.S. states backing away from a crime-control model of drug enforcement and instead treating the issue as a public health matter.
“Substance disorder is among the only health conditions for which a person can be arrested for displaying symptoms,” says the new Washington bill, HB 1499, sponsored by Reps. Lauren Harris (D) and Kirsten Harris-Talley (D). “Treating substance disorder like a crime through arrests and incarceration further disrupts and destabilizes the lives of these individuals.”
The proposal would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of so-called “personal use amounts” of controlled substances and direct the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) to craft a plan under which “continual, rapid and widespread access to a comprehensive continuum of care must be provided to all persons with substance use disorder.”