Councilmember Morales urges Council to reject unprecedented attempt to ramp up failed War on Drugs

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2 – South Seattle) urged her colleagues to reject CB 120586 – legislation proposed by Republican City Attorney Ann Davison to ramp up the failed War on Drugs. It would, for the first time in Seattle’s history, allow the City Attorney to prosecute drug possession and public drug use, targeting unhoused people who have substance use disorder with incarceration and fines instead of treatment.  

“I want it to be abundantly clear that this legislation will have deadly consequences. While this legislation is moving forward without being studied, we have more than 50 years of data that demonstrates how the War on Drugs is a failure and that imprisoning people for substance use disorder doesn’t just destroy lives, it makes people 40 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose when, and if, they get out,” said Councilmember Morales.  

“My district has seen the harsh impacts of the War on Drugs and the City’s unsuccessful attempts to solve it with increased police presence and incarceration. That’s why I’m urging my Council colleagues to join me in advocating for real solutions, like increasing funds for low-income housing production, social services, and life-saving harm reduction instead of jailing.” 

Here are the facts: 

  1. This legislation makes no mention of treatment or any help for people living with substance use disorder. 
  2. The legislation has not been evaluated by the Office of Civil Rights for its impacts on our City’s Race and Social Justice Ordinance – a standard practice for major legislation.  
  3. No healthcare providers have reviewed the legislation. 
  4. It has not been reviewed in any Council committee.  
  5. The King County Department of Public Defense, SEIU 925, ACLU-WA, Evergreen Treatment Services, REACH, NW Immigrant Rights Project, PROTEC17, and many other organizations on the front lines of helping people with substance use disorder have urged the Council not to pass this bill. 

“The experts are clear – incarceration for addiction does not work. This legislation denies the science and instead would knowingly, needlessly destroy the lives of thousands of people who need effective, evidence-based, and compassionate solutions. It’s well past time that my colleagues put adequate resources toward addressing the opioid crisis. Nothing in this legislation does that.”