SEATTLE – The Seattle City Council passed legislation today that will refocus Seattle’s approach to public drug use and make unprecedented commitments to prioritizing treatment and diversion services. The legislation was proposed by Mayor Bruce Harrell and was co-sponsored by Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis (District 7 – Pioneer Square to Magnolia).
“Today, we’re making the most substantive commitment to treatment and diversion in Seattle’s history. By taking the time and listening to the experts, we ensured our approach won’t continue to make the same mistakes of the past. Rather, we are investing in a new system that prioritizes recovery while still taking a strong stance on public drug use,” said Councilmember Lewis.
This comprehensive proposal is the result of intensive collaboration between public health officials, service providers, elected leaders, and law enforcement. The final package will include:
- $7 million in new capital investments this year focused on leading with drug treatment,
- $20 million to increase treatment and overdose response services,
- adoption of the State Legislature’s new drug possession law into the Seattle Municipal Code, and
- an executive order from Mayor Harrell providing guidance to police officers on how to apply the new law, designating diversion and treatment as the preferred approach to addressing substance use issues but retaining the ability to make arrests when necessary.
This is much more comprehensive legislation compared to a previous proposal considered by Council earlier this year.
“By adopting Mayor Harrell’s comprehensive package of policies, the Council is endorsing a plan. Not just a statute,” said Councilmember Lewis. “I commend Mayor Harrell for his leadership in building this path forward.”