A recently announced proposal to remove felony charges for personal drug possession has garnered eight legislative sponsors in both the House and Senate. The bill will be prefiled in December.
Sponsors of this measure include Representative Jamie Pederson (Chair of the House Judiciary Committee), Senator Jeannie Kohl-Welles, Representative Sherry Appleton, Representative Jim Moeller (Speaker Pro Tempore), Representative Luis Moscoso, Represenative Joe Fitzgibbon, Representative Chris Reykdal and Representative Jessyn Farrell.
Representative Roger Goodman, Chair of the House Public Safety Committee (the first committee the bill will be assigned to in the House), has confirmed that he will give the proposal a public hearing.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an international nonprofit reform group, has officially endorsed the proposal, and will be working to get it approved into law.
Under Washington State law the possession of any amount of a controlled substance, or over 40 grams of cannabis, is a felony charge with a potential five year prison sentence. Advocates contend that this is a failed policy which leads to an overcrowding of prisons at taxpayer expense. The proposed law would reduce these charges to misdemeanors, without altering any penalties for distribution or manufacturing of an illegal substance. Minor laws would also remain unchanged.
The nonprofit organization Sensible Washington, the group behind the effort, plans to continue garnering public and legislative support in the coming months leading up to the start of the legislative session.
Source: Sensible Washington