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


Thursday, January 27, 2011
Last week the Washington Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Roe v. TeleTech. Roe was fired from her job as a customer service consultant, solely because of her lawful use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Monday, January 10, 2011
The 2011 Washington state legislative session kicks off today, and budget-sensitive law makers will be presented with two opportunities not only to make our state marijuana laws work better for Washingtonians, but also to generate much-needed revenue that can save vital government services.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The ACLU of Washington has filed a friend-of-the-court brief saying that the firing of an employee for using marijuana at home for medicinal purposes was wrongful. The ACLU brief urges that the rights of individuals under our state’s medical marijuana law be protected. The Washington Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the employee’s case on January 18, 2011.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
It was recently announced by the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that a new institute will be created that will study “substance use, abuse, and addiction research and related public health initiatives.” This institute will replace the existing National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and other institutes dealing with addiction. As the NIH director states, creating the new, unified institute “makes scientific sense and would enhance NIH's efforts to address the substance abuse and addiction problems that take such a terrible toll on our society.” In other words, the brain processes involved with addiction are universal across substances, so we shouldn’t be studying them in a piecemeal fashion based on their legal status. Makes sense right? Perhaps it’s time our lawmakers follow suit and pass laws which treat addiction as the public health issue it is, instead of the current criminal/non-criminal system we now employ.
Monday, November 29, 2010
In a previous post, we mentioned Stranger reporter Brendan Kiley's groundbreaking piece on levamisole, a chemical used to deworm livestock, showing up as a cutting agent in the U.S. cocaine supply. Preliminary results of a testing kit distributed on the streets of Seattle suggest that 85% of the city's cocaine supply is tainted with levamisole.
Monday, November 8, 2010
California’s Proposition 19 - the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act – narrowly lost on election day. The final tally, 46.1% voted in favor and 53.9% against (the most successful results ever for a legalization initiative). Washington state’s two liquor privatization initiatives also faltered. Initiative 1100 (largely financed by Costco) lost in a close race, while Initiative 1105 (largely financed by liquor distributors) lost by double digits. Although there is no single answer for why voters didn't pass these measures, one common theme may be that the public wants state-level control when it comes to intoxicating substances. Let’s take a closer look at these races. Read more
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Last Monday, just before 9 o'clock at night, a half dozen Seattle police officers in black tactical gear, with guns drawn, broke down the front door of an apartment with a battering ram and put the man they found inside in his bathrobe face down on his kitchen floor at gunpoint. The officers' search revealed two marijuana plants, each roughly 12 inches tall, and a document establishing that the man on the kitchen floor had been authorized by his physician to engage in the medical use of marijuana as provided under Washington state law. Read more
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Yesterday, the Tacoma City Council agreed to delay taking action on cease-and-desist letters sent to eight medical marijuana dispensaries until after the upcoming 2011 state legislative session. The incident is only the latest in a string of recent stories from across the state highlighting the need for the legislature to tackle the question of how Washington patients with terminal and debilitating conditions, whose doctors have authorized the medical use of cannabis, are supposed to get it. Currently, the law says a patient or her designated provider may possess a sixty-day supply of cannabis for the patient's medical use, but it's silent on the question of where to acquire that supply. It defines "medical use of marijuana" to include "production" - i.e., growing - but where does the patient or provider obtain seeds, starts, or cuttings? The Washington state legislature will be ready to tackle these questions in 2011. Read more
Monday, October 18, 2010
A recent story about a college party in tiny Roslyn, WA, in which nine people were taken to the hospital for possible overdoses, has received national media attention.  It’s alleged that drinks at the party were spiked with drugs (possibly Rohypnol, aka “roofies”), although authorities are still awaiting toxicology reports. If students were indeed drugged without consent, let’s hope law enforcement catches up with those responsible. However, a less talked about and equally disturbing aspect of the story is that “not one person chose to call 911." This is unfortunate on several levels, but most glaringly because Washington state recently enacted a law specifically designed to deal with this type of situation. The 911 Good Samaritan law works as follows: If you think you’re witnessing a drug overdose and seek medical help, you will receive immunity from criminal charges of drug possession.  The overdose victim you’re helping is protected, too. Calling 911 is always the right response.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, October 11, 2010
A federal court in Yakima has quashed a subpoena that demanded the medical information of 17 medical marijuana patients, citing the need to protect their privacy. The ACLU represented the medical clinic that holds the patients’ records.