In the state of Washington, it is legal for adults to possess small amounts of marijuana. Voters approved this change to the law that would prevent individuals from being jailed as a result of possessing the drug for recreational purposes. As the voting public approved this measure, some are wondering whether or not to further revise state laws regarding drug possession.
A group called "Sensible Washington" is trying to gain support for a measure that would make all drug possession charges a misdemeanor, without changing the current marijuana law. Under current laws, individuals can face felony charges for carrying illicit drugs, even if they don't intend to sell or distribute them.
Although there is no indication as to whether or not legislation to change drug laws will succeed, one thing is known: Changing drug possession to a misdemeanor would reduce maximum jail time from five years to 90 days. Supporters of the effort indicate that this more effectively handles the issues that surround drug possession and use.
Proponents say that a change in law would allow efforts to be focused on drug treatment, rather than heavy sentences. The reality is that those who are in possession of illegal drugs (and have no intent to distribute them) may have some issues with chemical dependency, which can be addressed with rehabilitation.
As lawmakers consider changes to the law, individuals who face criminal charges for drug possession will still want to weigh their legal options. The potential penalties for possession vary with the quantity and type of drug seized by law enforcement. Furthermore, these aspects of drug charges can also impact how to approach a successful criminal defense.
Source: Seattle Weekly, "Sensible Washington Wants All Drug Possession Crimes to Be Misdemeanors," Matt Driscoll, Aug. 27, 2013