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.
Washington Marijuana Legalization: We hope that marijuana reform will spark change throughout the criminal justice system
Courts should review harsh sentences from ill-conceived drug laws
Lead: Law enforcement assisted diversion


News Release, Published: 
Thursday, October 13, 2011
A unique coalition of government officials, law enforcement agencies, and community groups – including the ACLU-WA – are backing the  innovative new LEAD program. Instead of arresting and prosecuting low-level drug offenders, law enforcement will divert them to community-based treatment and support services – a welcome alternative to the War on Drugs approach. 
Friday, September 16, 2011
As flu season approaches, Washingtonians should be thankful that they can still purchase the highly effective decongestant pseudoephedrine over the counter and don’t need to get a prescription (which some states now require). However, they should also be somewhat disgruntled that they must now have their personal information (name, address, amount purchased) submitted into a newly created database that will track their purchases. Since 2005, paper logs had to be maintained for pseudoephedrine sales in Washington, but there was no centrally housed electronic database.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Washington remains the only medical marijuana state not to have a patient registry. Washington’s medical marijuana law also fails to provide patients any protection from arrest.  Law enforcement resistance to providing arrest protection has been based in part on the absence of a state-run registry. Lawmakers tried to remedy this situation in the 2011 legislative session by including a cutting edge, privacy protecting patient registry in SB 5073 (sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, 36th District). 
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The Seattle Times cover story on marijuana grow operations on Native American land highlights the fact that lots of marijuana is being grown outdoors in Washington -- as this blog has pointed out previously. The problem of large outdoor marijuana grows is a prime example of why we should be taking a new approach to marijuana policy in our state.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Congratulations to our drug reform allies in New York for passing the nation’s fourth 911 Good Samaritan Law. The law aims to save lives by encouraging people to call for emergency services when they witness overdoses. New York becomes the largest state to enact such a much-needed measure.
News Release, Published: 
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The Washington Supreme Court ruled against an authorized patient who was fired for using medical marijuana, even though there was no evidence that its use interfered with her job performance. In a disappointing 8-1 opinion, the Court found that the Washington Medical Use of Marijuana Act does not protect employees who are discharged for exercising their right to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Friday, July 8, 2011
As Connecticut becomes the fourteenth state in the U.S. to decriminalize adult possession of marijuana, it’s clear that many states want to take a different approach towards marijuana; despite the federal government’s continued blustering on state medical marijuana laws.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Although President Nixon gets credit for declaring the "war on drugs," it is really state officials who have been waging the war. In 2009, there were nearly 1.7 million arrests for drug crimes in the U.S., the vast majority of which were made by state law enforcement officers. And these arrests came under laws passed by state lawmakers. So the number of individuals in state prisons and jails for drug crimes far outnumbers those in federal prison, despite the fact that more than half of all federal prisoners are there for drug crimes. Because state officials are serving as the front-line troops in the "war on drugs," efforts to reform drug laws should focus on the states.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Last month, a high school in southeastern Washington conducted a suspicionless drug search. Students were asked to leave their classroom so that a police officer with a “drug-detection dog” could check their backpacks for signs of drug possession. After the search, two students were singled out for a more invasive search and questioning. One had marijuana paraphernalia in his backpack; in the other, no signs of drugs or drug paraphernalia could be found. Good news for the second student—after the humiliating and anxiety-producing search was complete, he was permitted to go back to class.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
June 2011 has the unfortunate distinction of marking the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's declaration of a "war on drugs" — a war which has cost $1 trillion but produced little to no effect on the supply of or demand for drugs. The war on drugs has been a war on communities of color. The racial disparities are staggering: despite the fact that whites engage in drug offenses at a higher rate than African-Americans, African-Americans are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate that is 10 times greater than that of whites.