Washington Lawmakers Approve Drug Decriminalization Bill In Committee Vote

MJ moment

A landmark drug decriminalization and treatment bill in Washington State cleared its first legislative hurdle on Monday, with a panel of lawmakers voting to advance the measure just hours before a key deadline. The House Public Safety Committee voted 7–6 to approve the Pathways to Recovery Act, HB 1499, which would remove penalties for “personal use” amounts of illegal substances and expand outreach and recovery services. The vote is the first time a panel of lawmakers in any U.S. state have voted to remove criminal penalties for possession of all drugs. “This bill is an assertion that substance use disorder is treatable brain disease from which people recover,” lead sponsor Rep. Lauren Davis (D) said before the vote. “This bill is about reaching each and every person living with substance use disorder, before they ever touch the criminal legal system.” Voters in neighboring Oregon passed a similar measure last year, expanding treatment and replacing criminal penalties for small amounts of drugs with a $100 fine or referral to treatment. The Washington proposal, by contrast, does not include a fine. Instead, the bill would drastically expand outreach and recovery services, part of what supporters have called a holistic “continuum of care” to support people with drug use disorders. While Washington has a relatively strong drug treatment system, they say, the state has long overlooked funding proactive outreach and long-term recovery. “We fund one leg of a three-legged stool,” Davis said at an earlier committee hearing Friday at which lawmakers took testimony on the proposal. “We pay for treatment over and over, because insurance covers it, but we fail to fund the outreach on the front end and the recovery support services on the back end that are absolutely foundational to fostering sustained recovery.” Watch lawmakers and advocates discuss the drug decriminalization…

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Source : Washington Lawmakers Approve Drug Decriminalization Bill In Committee Vote

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