On April 26, a law to make public drug use a misdemeanor was introduced by King County Council Member Reagan Dunn. After implementing many temporary solutions to the issue of drug possession, making public use of drugs illegal is a serious new consideration. The law would replace the one penalizing drug possession itself. In 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that the state’s outlawing the simple possession of drugs was unconstitutional, thereby decriminalizing drug possession.
This proposed law is an effort to keep public areas safe by outlawing actions, rather than possession. If the law is passed, it will be “unlawful for any person to knowingly use a controlled substance in a public place unless the controlled substance has been lawfully prescribed to the person using it.”
The law would make using substances in public punishable by 180 days in a county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Local governments aren’t allowed to apply their own drug paraphernalia regulations, as this new law will be applied statewide. Under it, selling or permitting drug paraphernalia to be sold is a class one“ civil infraction. The bill’s definition of drug paraphernalia does not include cannabis-related paraphernalia or drug testing and analyzing equipment. Prohibitions on drug paraphernalia would not apply to the distribution or use of public health supplies through pharmacies, other authorized community programs, or public health programs.
“This bill isn’t perfect, but it’s a strong step in the right direction,” said Washington state house republican leaders John Braun and Drew Stokesbary in a statement.