Proposal to Defelonize Personal Drug Possession to be Prefiled in December 2013

September 13, 2013

[Update, 10/1/2013: State Representative Luis Moscoso (1st District), State Representative Jamie Pederson (Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, 43rd District) and Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (36th District), have all recently agreed to cosponsor our proposal.]

Our recently announced proposal to remove felony charges for personal drug possession in Washington State will be prefiled in the House of Representatives this December, with State Representative Sherry Appleton (23rd District) as the primary sponsor. Representatives Jim Moeller (Speaker Pro Tempore, 49th District), Joe Fitzgibbon (34th District), Chris Reykdal (22nd District) and Jessyn Farrell (Assistant Majority Whip, 46th District) will be among those cosponsoring the proposal.

In addition, we’re in talks with numerous other lawmakers and plan to have a companion bill filed in the Senate, also in December.

Under current Washington State law, the possession of over 40 grams of cannabis, or a minuscule amount of any other controlled substance, is a felony charge with a potential 5 year prison sentence. This new proposal would alter the law so that these possession charges would be misdemeanors (with a 90 day maximum sentence), unless intent to distribute is proven. Reducing the charge to a misdemeanor would end the social and economic impact of felonizing low-level drug offenses, which leads to the mass imprisonment of nonviolent individuals at taxpayer expense.

We understand that our drug laws are failing, and that action needs to be taken. Defelonization is a major step in fixing these laws.

We’re currently in the process of building further public and legislative support for the proposal, and will be announcing more cosponsors in the coming days and weeks.

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