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.
Courts should review harsh sentences from ill-conceived drug laws
Lead: Law enforcement assisted diversion


Monday, January 30, 2012
Over a ten year-period, more than 100,000 arrests were made in Washington state for adult marijuana crimes. The vast majority of these arrests were for low-level possession.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Teen marijuana usage rates have risen slightly in recent years, while tobacco and alcohol usage rates have declined. Alarmingly, 12th-graders across the nation and in Washington state are now more likely to have used marijuana in the past 30 days than to have smoked a cigarette.
Friday, November 18, 2011
In 2010, the ACLU of Washington was instrumental in the passage of the nation’s second “911 Good Samaritan” law. New research from the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute shows that the 911 Good Samaritan law works.
Friday, October 28, 2011
One disturbing consequence of the Patriot Act, which just marked its ten-year anniversary, is how it has been used for law enforcement actions not related to combating terrorism -- the rationale for the Act's passage. A glaring example can be seen in the use of "sneak and peak” searches for drug crimes.
Friday, October 14, 2011
The nation’s catastrophic War on Drugs, and especially on marijuana, treats substance abuse as a criminal issue separate from public health. Not the first time the U.S. has taken this approach – remember Al Capone and “Bugs” Moran? An explosion of crime and violence rose up around the first American prohibition, not unlike the mess we have on our hands today. Following the Ken Burns' "Prohibition" feature on PBS last week, the Lewiston Tribune draws some interesting comparisons: http://lmtribune.com/article_53491309-3e13-567d-8de4-9fe4f4be3960.html
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.