Proposed bill aims to trade handcuffs for help when it comes to drug use


Washington lawmakers have proposed a invoice that goals to reform the way in which we deal with substance abuse dysfunction, and the current Supreme Courtroom ruling decriminalizing easy drug possession within the state might present a chance to transition from punishing drug customers to truly serving to them.

The prime sponsor of Home Invoice 1499, Rep. Lauren Davis (D-Shoreline) testified throughout a public listening to on Feb. 12 claiming that not solely is the state’s present method to drug abuse dysfunction “woefully insufficient,” however additionally it is “extremely problematic.”

Davis stated that arresting and incarcerating people affected by substance abuse dysfunction does little to assist them stop the usage of medication and is much extra prone to exacerbate the sense of social isolation, disgrace and lack of connection that each one function underlying causes of substance abuse.

Moreover, she stated drug associated felony costs solely current an impediment to acquiring employment and housing, two issues which have been proven to be vital to habit restoration.

Davis argued that these affected by habit deserve “assist, not handcuffs.”

Davis’s co-sponsor to the invoice, Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley (D-Seattle) stated behavioral well being providers and applications are often not supplied to an individual in want till after they’re booked within the legal justice system.

“It’s a illness, it’s a dysfunction, and it’s the solely sickness we deal with with criminalization,” Harris-Talley stated.

She says this invoice would develop entry to behavioral well being providers, enable for higher inter-system coordination and supply higher pathways to restoration as a substitute for arrest.

The invoice as written now wouldn’t solely require the Well being Care Authority to develop a substance use restoration providers plan to help individuals with substance use dysfunction in accessing therapy and restoration providers, it additionally consists of provisions that require coaching for legislation enforcement officers to raised work together with individuals with substance use issues and even to refer them to to therapy and restoration providers.

Harris-Talley stated the brand new coverage would require extra behavioral well being sources, practitioners and specialists to accommodate the elevated quantities of sufferers this invoice would spur.

“Now we have the beginning, however to scale up we are going to want much more funding,” she stated.

The invoice would have additionally decriminalized “private use quantities,” of illicit substances, however a current Washington State Supreme Courtroom ruling in Washington v. Blake struck down the state’s easy possession statute, basically decriminalizing drug possession anyway.

Harris-Talley stated she believed the Washington v. Blake ruling was the “proper determination,” because it confirmed how the present drug possession legal guidelines solely proliferate and speed up the incarceration of these affected by an in any other case treatable sickness.

She additionally urged that the timing of the court docket’s determination might show to be a handy time to implement a coverage and paradigm shift away from punishing substance abuse to treating it as an alternative.

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