Washington State

How does your state measure up when it comes to establishing policies that reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition?

Harm Reduction

Does the state permit access to clean syringes for people who inject drugs?

  • YES

Does the state have naloxone training & distribution programs available to the public at syringe exchange programs or other facilities?

  • YES

Does the state have a 911 Good Samaritan law?

  • YES

Does the state have legal methadone access?

  • YES


Are marijuana possession and use legal for medical purposes?

Is there a government-regulated distribution system for medical marijuana?

  • YES

More information on medical marijuana:

What are the criminal penalties for marijuana possession?

Criminal Justice

How many people are arrested for a drug offense each year?

  • 19,414

What are the racial disparities in arrest rates?

  • Total population (2011): white: 81.9%, black: 4.9%, other: 13.1%.
    Drug arrests (2011): 85.0% white, 10.1% black.

What happens to people’s voting rights when they become part of the criminal justice system?

  • All persons with a felony conviction must re-register to vote after completion of their sentence and all parole and probation. However, the Secretary of State's website states that persons who have willfully failed to make three payments in a 12 month period on any court imposed fines may have their ability to vote revoked by the prosecutor.

Marijuana Legalization in Washington State: One-Year Status Report

New Report Finds Major Fiscal Benefits, Decrease in Violent Crime, No Increase in Youth Marijuana Use or Traffic Fatalities – And Massive Drop in Marijuana Arrests

Popular Support for Marijuana Legalization Remains Strong in Washington

As several states consider marijuana legalization initiatives, all eyes are on the initial outcomes of Washington’s marijuana law. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to pass laws taxing and regulating marijuana. Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of retail marijuana sales in Washington. Adult possession of marijuana became legal on December 6, 2012, 30 days after the passage of I-502, the voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Tamar Todd 510-593-4908

Marijuana Legalization in Washington After 1 Year of Retail Sales and 2.5 Years of Legal Possession

July 6, 2015

In November 2012, voters in Washington and Colorado approved the first two laws in the U.S. to end marijuana prohibition and legally regulate marijuana production, distribution and sales. In December 2012, marijuana possession and use by adults 21 years of age and older became legal in Washington. A year-and-a-half later, the first retail marijuana stores opened their doors on July 8, 2014.

Report: Seattle's New Approach to Low-Level Drug Offenses Produces Nearly 60% Reduction in Recidivism

LEAD Establishes Unique Collaboration Among Law Enforcement, Human Service Agencies, Business Leaders, and Community Members

Interest in LEAD Grows Among Major Cities Across the Nation, Including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, and Albany

NEW YORK: According to a new, independent study by a University of Washington evaluation team, one of the nation’s most innovative and promising approaches to ending the war on drugs and mass incarceration has been shown to produce a dramatic drop in recidivism.


gabriel sayegh – 646-335-2264
Tommy McDonald - 510-338-8827

Revenue Up, Crime Down: Marijuana Legalization in Colorado and Washington

September 29, 2014

This fact sheet looks at the numbers post-marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington.

President Obama: Marijuana No More Dangerous Than Alcohol

Obama Calls New Laws Legalizing Marijuana in Colorado and Washington 'Important'

In an interview with the New Yorker published Sunday, President Obama spoke about his past drug use, said marijuana was no more dangerous than alcohol, talked about racial disparities in marijuana arrests and said the new laws legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington are ‘important.’

Excerpts from the interview by David Remnick of the New Yorker where Obama talked about drugs and the war on drugs include:

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann (646) 335-2240

Initial evaluation of the impact of Washington's 911 Good Samaritan Law

November 1, 2011

Initial findings of a study on the implementation of Washington's 911 Good Samaritan Law from the University of Washington's Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute. 88% of opiate users indicated that now that they were aware of the law they would be more likely to call 911 during future overdoses.

WA State Good Samaritan Law (§ 69.50.215 - 2010)

June 9, 2010

This is the text of Washington State's Good Samaritan law.

Law Atlas map of states with Good Samaritan laws

This in an online interactive resource for visualizing the states with Good Samaritan laws.

Full Page New York Times Ad in Thursday Paper: "80 Years After the End of Prohibition, Prohibition is Finally Coming to an End"

Drug Policy Alliance Thanks Colorado and Washington Voters, Pat Robertson, Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, NJ Gov. Chris Christie, and Presidents of Colombia, Guatemala and Uruguay

Comes on Heels of Obama Response to Marijuana Legalization in Colorado and Washington: "We’ve Got Bigger Fish to Fry"

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann 646-335-2240

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