Councilmember Nelson celebrates passage of bill to address public drug use and possession 

Following the Seattle City Council’s 6-3 vote to pass legislation (CB 120645) to adopt state law and allow the City Attorney to prosecute public drug and possession, Councilmember Sara Nelson (Position 9, Citywide) offered the following statement: 

“The drug crisis we see playing out on our streets is the most crushing public health and safety issue of our time. We have a moral obligation to do everything within our power to reverse this devastating loss of life and associated community harms – including police intervention.”

“It’s been almost six months since I proposed my original legislation and we almost passed conforming legislation in June. I applaud Mayor Harrell for bringing us back to the table. This is not a perfect bill but it’s time to get this done because every day we dither, people die.” 


Long before Washington State passed its new bipartisan drug law, 2E2SSB 5536, Councilmember Nelson led the fight for a stronger local response to public drug use.  

In April, working with Councilmember Alex Pedersen and City Attorney Ann Davison, she sponsored legislation that would have made the public use of illegal drugs a simple misdemeanor. The legislation was updated after the State legislature made the knowing possession and public use of illegal drugs a gross misdemeanor. Nelson then sponsored conforming legislation, CB 120586, which was defeated by Council 5-4 on June 6.  

Pursuant to her belief that treatment is of paramount importance, Councilmember Nelson has continued to lead the charge in responding to the drug crisis playing out on Seattle’s streets. She has served on Mayor Bruce Harrell’s Fentanyl Systems Work Group and won crucial amendments to this bill in committee that will make the legislation more effective at interrupting public use of illegal drugs. 

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