Washington State Group Ends Ballot Campaign to Decriminalize Drugs

The advocacy group behind a Washington state drug decriminalization ballot initiative announced it would cease its campaign this year due to funding-related issues despite recording all-time high levels of support.

Full story after the jump.

Advocacy organization Commit to Change Washington announced it is withdrawing its bid to decriminalize drugs in Washington through a ballot measure this November, Marijuana Moment reports. The group said signature-gathering efforts for the initiative ultimately were too costly with estimates “on track to be almost double our initial budget allotment in a time period too short to gain that added financial support,” campaign representative Christian Bell told Marijuana Moment.

In an email sent to supporters, the group wrote, “We will not be moving forward to qualify Washington State Initiative Measure No. 1922 to the November 8 general election ballot.”

The ballot measure is the latest effort by the Americans for Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sponsored by a group of individuals and organizations formerly known as Treatment First Washington to reform Washington’s drug laws to be more health-centered. It would have used cannabis tax dollars to fund an increase in drug treatment, recovery, and long-term services for those experiencing substance use disorders.

The measure would have barred law enforcement from arresting citizens for drug possession but could refer individuals to treatment. The measure would have also expunged criminal records related to drug possession and use.

The announcement comes on the heels of a poll conducted by Data for Progress that found 67% of voters would support the measure after reading the ballot language, the report says.

The proposal could be introduced as a bill next year in the legislature, which passed a bill during the 2021 session that reduced drug possession to a misdemeanor following the state Supreme Court throwing out Washington’s drug possession laws. However, that reprieve is set to sunset on July 1, 2023.

The campaign raised over $3 million this year for its efforts, spent around $2.7 million, and reported $670,000 in debt, according to state records.

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