Broader Decriminalization: Washington State Bill Would Lessen Penalties for Narcotics

The State of Washington has already legalized cannabis for recreational use, but it's possible they aren't stopping there. A 2015 bill will lessen the penalties for narcotics possession as well.

House Bill 1024 (HB1024) was prefiled for introduction next year on Dec. 8 by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-District 23). If it is successful, Washington will have the freest drug laws in any state in over a generation.

The bill changes the classification of two narcotics-related crimes from a Class C felony to a misdemeanor. It reclassifies possession of a "Controlled Substance that is a Narcotic from Schedule III, IV, or V or Nonnarcotic from Schedule I-V" and a "Controlled Substance that is either heroin or narcotics from Schedule I or II." Those crimes are now "punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than ninety days."

HB2014 may seem extreme to some, but this reform is actually very necessary. America now houses the world's largest prison population - by a mile. The need to free up criminal justice resources to be used on more serious crimes is becoming more evident. While ending marijuana prohibition was a good first step toward that goal, it doesn't stop with that. Further reforms are sorely needed to re-establish peace and freedom in our country.

HB1024 is a good step in that direction, and shows that the state of Washington continues to be a trendsetter in fighting back against the unjust, unconstitutional federal war on drugs. While decriminalizing narcotics may not be a political winner right now, neither was marijuana reform until very recently. We have to do the ground work so that the laws are sensibly applied, and people's lives aren't crushed because of one mistake.

HOW TO SUPPORT THIS BILL

If you live in the state of Washington, contact your state legislators immediately. It is important for you to politely urge them to co-sponsor this important bill. That is how you can make a difference in the fight against drug prohibition.

If you live in different state, contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a similar bill to HB1024 that reduces the criminal penalties for narcotics possession. While you're at it, tell them to introduce our P.E.A.C.E (Preventing Excessive Allocations for Cannabis Enforcement) Act as well.