Legislation was filed this week in Washington State to remove felony charges for personal drug possession. The proposal – House Bill 2116 – was filed by State Representative Sherry Appleton, and was formulated by the nonprofit organization Sensible Washington. According to Sensible Washington, at least 8 other legislators will sign on as cosponsors once they’re able to do so (in early January), including the Deputy Speaker of the House and the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
Under current Washington State law, the possession of any amount of any controlled substance – or over 40 grams of cannabis – is an automatic felony with a potential 5 year prison sentence. House Bill 2116 would alter this by reducing the charge to a misdemeanor, with a maximum jail sentence of 90 days, as long as there is no intent to distribute.
“Removing felony charges for simple drug possession is a smart, pragmatic approach to reducing some of the harms associated with the war on drugs”, says Sensible Washington, “The goal is to stop labeling people as felons, filling up our prisons and ruining their lives in the process, for possessing a small amount of an illegal substance.”