War on Drugs

Drug Policy

War on Drugs

Our nation’s misguided and costly "War on Drugs" has undermined civil liberties in many ways — eroding protections against unlawful searches and seizures, imposing overly harsh sentences on individuals, disproportionately impacting communities of color. The ACLU of Washington Drug Policy Project works for policies that treat drug use as a public health concern, not a criminal justice matter, through public education, legislative advocacy, and litigation.
Logo for LEAD, a law enforcement assisted diversion program

Topic Resources

News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Passed by Washington’s voters with an 11-point margin, Initiative 502 went into effect on December 6. The measure is an historic step in reforming our state’s marijuana policies and its criminal justice system. Adults no longer are subject to arrest for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use under state law.

News Release, Published: 
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The ACLU of Washington hails the passage of Initiative 502, which legalizes, taxes, and regulates small quantities of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. We look forward to working with state and federal officials and New Approach Washington sponsors to ensure the law is fully and fairly implemented.

 

Published: 
Friday, November 2, 2012
A recent report prepared by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project sheds light on the tremendous amount of resources Washington State has devoted to marijuana law enforcement over the last 25 years. There have been over 240,000 arrests for adult marijuana possession, consuming over $300 million in taxpayer money, since 1986. And people of color are the more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Washington state. Disturbingly, racially disproportionate enforcement is getting worse. Using data from the Marijuana Arrest Research Project report, the ACLU of Washington has produced an infographic that visualizes this increasing disparity,
Published: 
Thursday, October 4, 2012
“GOP Senate hopeful latest to endorse legal pot” proclaimed an Associated Press report carried by media statewide yesterday.  It came after Michael Baumgartner, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who is a state senator from Spokane, announced that he is supporting Initiative 502 – citing his experience as an advisor to a counternarcotics team in Afghanistan.
Published: 
Monday, August 27, 2012
Washington state’s war on marijuana has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade. Every one of Washington’s 39 counties has spent millions of dollars enforcing these laws.
Published: 
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
On last Tuesday evening, community members gathered at Southside Commons in Seattle to hear leaders of faith discuss the problem of mass incarceration. The panel was comprised of SpearIt, an assistant law professor at St. Louis University, Pastor Carl Livingston, founder of Kingdom Christian Center, and Reverend Paul Benz, Co-Director of Faith Action Network. A recent forum in Seattle made some vital connections for people concerned about the enormous volume of people in our criminal justice system. Its topic: "Faith Communities and Mass Incarceration."
Published: 
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Isn’t it time to stop this approach to criminal justice? Don’t we have better things to spend the money on? Inspired by David Letterman, here is our list of 10 Ideas for saving money by putting fewer people in prisons and jails, and being “smart” on criminal justice instead of simply being punitive.
Published: 
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Syringe exchange programs save lives, save taxpayer money, and do no harm to society. The federal government finally lifted its decades long funding ban in 2009. Unfortunately, the ban was reinstated in December 2011 for purely political reasons. Advocates are now working to remove the funding ban once again.
Published: 
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The innovative Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (“LEAD”) pre-booking diversion pilot program has now been operating since fall of 2011. Instead of arresting low-level drug offenders and prosecuting them, law enforcement diverts them to community-based treatment and support services. The LEAD program also has a new website (www.LEADKingCounty.org).
Published: 
Monday, February 13, 2012
At Thursday’s joint Senate and House committee work session on the measure, four compelling witnesses testified in favor of this new approach. Substance abuse counselor and university professor, Roger Roffman. Retired public health director and former prison physician, Dr. Kim Thorburn. Former top U.S. prosecuting attorney for Western Washington John McKay. And retired high-ranking FBI official, Charles Mandigo.

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