People who are caught with less than two grams of any illicit drug will no longer be prosecuted in Snohomish County, Washington.
Why? Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe says such cases are expensive, require too many resources, and really do not address the drug problem in any meaningful way.
“In 2017 our felony division, with no additional personnel, filed 700 more cases into Superior Court than in 2016. That resulted in caseloads far beyond what our trial deputies can handle effectively. Additionally, when we file more cases our county public defenders, because of the reasonable caseload standards adopted by the Supreme Court, get more attorneys. We do not. We just get further and further behind,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office reads.
Though the change does not go so far as decriminalizing drug possession, prosecutors will only press charges if the possession is tied to a more substantial crime such as burglary, according to Snohomish County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Craig Matheson.
“We just do not have the resources to adequately process simple possessions and adequately prosecute crimes where there are identifiable victims [of more serious crime].”
Matheson says Snohomish County officials will monitor crime in the area. If there is a clear spike in criminal activity affiliated to addiction after the policy change, they will re-evaluate the situation.