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Ellensburg, WA 98926-2887
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Kittitas (pronounced 'KITT-i-tass') County is located in central Washington
State. It spans from the lush forested Cascade Mountains to the upper Yakima River Valley plains and
the Columbia River.
Kittitas County, WA -
This Monday, August 14, 2023, brings an important step in the right direction for Washington drug laws. In 2021, our State Supreme Court found constitutional problems with our old drug laws, and state drug law has been an unenforceable mess ever since. Fortunately, citizens demanded an end to the devastation of unchecked hard drugs, and Washington’s laws have been re-balanced. These changes take effect on Monday, and Kittitas County's Sheriff's Office wants to let our community know what to expect.
Washington’s restored drug laws focus on helping people with substance use disorders while protecting public order and public safety. This is not a return to the old “war on drugs.” We know treating addicted people like enemies doesn’t fix anything in the long run; but we also know people who need treatment to break the chains of drug use often aren’t able to seek or accept it without some outside incentive. Our new drug laws provide that incentive.
The new law restores Law Enforcement’s authority to seize contraband drugs and cite or arrest people who possess them. But the point isn’t just to throw people in jail. Most who are cited or arrested for possessing drugs will be diverted to drug assessment and treatment programs. If they comply with treatment, they avoid a criminal conviction or penalty. The point of the system is to get people help—even when it takes a bit of a push.
Our communities and lawmakers understood the need for this kind of incentive because they’ve seen the impacts of hard drugs. Drugs erode and destroy personalities and relationships. They enslave the people who use them, overpower the conscience, and encourage criminal behavior. They lead people to gamble with their own lives and routinely kill those they’ve enslaved.
The Sheriff’s Office will continue to focus enforcement efforts on those who deal and distribute drugs, as we always have. But starting this week, we will also intervene in the vicious cycle of illegal drug use by treating any possession of illegal drugs as the crime it is.
Anyone with questions about the new law is encouraged to read the act that changed it, the “Second Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5536,” or call the Sheriff’s Office to talk with a deputy.
Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at http://www.co.kittitas.wa.us
Kittitas County has a total area of 2,333 square miles. The highest point in the county is Mount Daniel at 7,959 feet above sea level.