EVERETT — Snohomish County prosecutors have decided to stop bringing criminal charges against people who are arrested with small amounts of drugs.
At least for now, people caught with less than 2 grams of drugs — any drugs — will not face prosecution.
The move reflects a growing felony caseload (up more than 700 filings between 2016 and 2017) and a recognition that prosecuting addicts for having small amounts of drugs isn’t changing behavior, Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe said in a press release.
“What we have been doing on these cases hasn’t been working,” Roe said.
Craig Matheson, the county’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor, said the glut of minor drug possession cases has kept prosecutors from focusing attention on cases with identifiable victims, including burglaries, robberies, assaults and property crimes. The changes are similar to those enacted recently in King County, he said.
Roe said he is hopeful that social services and public health approaches may change addicts’ behaviors, and if things get worse, the decision will be revisited.
Drug dealers won’t catch a similar break. “In fact, this step will likely allow us to be even more aggressive on those cases,” he said.