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.
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Topic Resources

Published: 
Monday, January 12, 2015
This op-ed first appeared in the Opinion section of the Seattle Times.  As medical marijuana heads back to Olympia, legislators are bracing for a rerun of last session’s drama of makeshift dispensary operators and self-appointed patient advocates decrying any effort to rein in abuses of the law.
News Release, Published: 
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Represented by the ACLU of Washington, three state-licensed marijuana business owners have intervened in a lawsuit challenging the City of Fife’s ban on marijuana operations. The plaintiff-intervenors say the City of Fife’s ban on legal marijuana operations within the city is unconstitutional and is preempted by state law.   Update: On Aug. 29, the court upheld Fife’s ban, saying that I-502 does not require cities to allow marijuana businesses.
Published: 
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
ACLU-WA Criminal Justice Director Alison Holcomb spoke at the historic opening of the first legally-licensed marijuana retail store in Seattle along with with business owner James Lathrop and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes.  Her comments acknowledge both the failures of prohibition and the efforts of so many to replace it with a system that works. 
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
As intended, the passage of I-502 is having a dramatic effect on low-level marijuana prosecutions. ACLU-WA analysis of Washington court data reveals that filings for misdemeanor marijuana offenses have decreased precipitously – freeing up criminal justice system resources to deal with serious crime.
Published: 
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Two upcoming events will highlight the ways the War on Drugs has produced painful consequences for not only the United States, but also our neighbors to the south.  Between the more than 70,000 deaths and 10,000 disappearances in Mexico since 2006, and the mass incarceration and disenfranchisement of non-violent individuals in the U.S., the number of lives being destroyed in the name of the War on Drugs has reached epidemic proportions.
Published: 
Friday, September 20, 2013
The federal government’s recent positive response to marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado seems a far and contradictory cry from their enforcement policy on federal grounds.
News Release, Published: 
Thursday, September 19, 2013
The ACLU of Washington hailed a decision by the Washington Supreme Court today recognizing the right of medical marijuana patients to raise a medical necessity defense in court.  The ACLU-WA filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case (State v. Kurtz) saying that the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act did not supersede the common law medical necessity defense, and that medical marijuana patients should be able to cite both medical necessity and state law in defending themselves. A medical necessity defense is available to someone who has violated a law, but was justified in doing so because the harm being avoided is greater than the harm of violating the law.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, June 10, 2013
Today, a group of substance abuse prevention and treatment professionals and public health advocates, in collaboration with the ACLU of Washington, submitted comments addressing the state Liquor Control Board’s initial draft rules for Initiative 502. 
News Release, Published: 
Monday, June 10, 2013
Today, a group of leaders from Washington’s ethnic and racial communities, in collaboration with the ACLU of Washington, submitted comments addressing the state Liquor Control Board’s initial draft rules for Initiative 502.

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