Seattle Finally Passes Drug Legislation
September 28, 2023
Following a failed attempt in June to align the city with state law (recently passed with bipartisan support) prohibiting illegal drug possession and use in public and enabling the city attorney to prosecute violations as gross misdemeanors, the Seattle City Council has passed an ordinance by a vote of 6-3 (Sara Nelson, Alex Pedersen, Lisa Herbold, Andrew Lewis, Dan Strauss and Council President Debora Juarez voting yes; Tammy Morales, Teresa Mosqueda and Kshama Sawant voting no). The legislation considered in June failed 5-4, after Andrew Lewis changed his stated position and voted against the bill.
The revised bill establishes an oversight committee and encourages police to prioritize diversion and treatment over arrest.
According to Councilmember Sara Nelson, Seattle was the last jurisdiction in the state to align its drug possession laws with state law.