A recently-announced proposal in Washington State to defelonize simple drug possession has garnered a primary legislative sponsor, State Representative Sherry Appleton, and will be formally filed in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January. In addition to Representative Appleton, Representatives Joe Fitzgibbon, Jim Moeller (Speaker Pro Tempore) and Chris Reykdal have all signed on as cosponsors, with “more to be announced soon”, according to the nonprofit organization Sensible Washington, the group behind the effort.
Under this new proposal, the possession of any drug, when not intended for distribution, would be reduced from a felony charge, to a misdemeanor, reducing the maximum sentence from 5 years, to 90 days. This would explicitly apply to cannabis, given that – despite the possession of 28 grams or less not being a crime (thanks to Initiative 502) – the possession of over 40 grams is an automatic felony, which is something that not many in Washington State understand.
Although defelonization won’t end the drug war, it’s a significant step in that direction; “Removing felony charges for simple drug possession is a smart, pragmatic approach to reducing some of the harms associated with the war on drugs”, states Sensible Washington in their press release about the effort, “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.”
We urge those in Washington State to contact their district’s legislators (which can be looked up by clicking here), asking them to support the defelonization of simple drug possession. Those in other states should be encouraged to seek similar reform, as no one should be labelled a felon – having their life permanently altered – for personal drug possession.