Washington Drug Laws

Washington Drug Laws

In the most recent year on record, Washington ranked as one of the top ten states in a number of different drug-related categories for citizens ages 12 and older. These included past-month use of illicit substances: specifically, past-month use of marijuana, and the non-medical use of prescription pain medications in the past year. Approximately 10 percent of Washington residents reported a use of illicit substances within the past month, compared to the national average of eight percent.

The most commonly cited illicit drug for rehabilitation admission in Washington was marijuana, with other stimulants ranking second, and heroin and other opiates following as third and fourth. Washington is also facing increased numbers of reported abuse of prescription medication.

HIDTA Counties

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program is designed to help target the most common areas of drug trafficking in states, and allocate more resources and more funding in order to more effectively combat that drug distribution.

In Washington, the counties that are considered HIDTA are Benton, Cowlitz, King, Lewis, Skagit, Spokane, Whatcom, Clark, Franklin, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston and Yakima. These counties were determined not only by their high drug trafficking statistics, but also the occurrence of drug related crimes.

Prescription Medication Management

The increased trend of prescription medication abuse in Washington has prompted state officials to take action in an effort to reduce the abuse. A number of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) have been implemented at levels of state authority and in the medical community.

These help track the prescription and distribution of medication, lowering the potential to distribute. The state also offers prescription drug take back programs, which help people safely dispose of prescription medications that have expired or are no longer needed by the patient to whom they were prescribed.

Employment Drug Testing

In the state of Washington, it is legal for employers to administer a drug test to possible applicants, even if the applicants were not notified of the test in advance; however, the applicant must have been officially offered a position. Applicants are not required to pay for any part of the drug testing, but refusal to submit to such a test constitutes grounds to end the application process.

Only certain employers in Washington are able to drug test their employees without advance notice. These include situations in which the job poses direct safety risks, when drug use could pose a safety hazard, when an employee has recently completed a drug rehabilitation program, or when there is a reasonable suspicion that an employee has been abusing drugs that affect his or her performance.

Rehabilitation Options

Washington offers a number of rehab options, including some state-funded opportunities for portions of the population who qualify. Rehabilitation may be a court requirement in some cases, especially in situations with multiple offenders, in addition to ordinary fines and penalties.

Washington’s population suffers from more drug-related crimes and deaths than the average state, but its drug-related laws are targeting the rising trends of prescription drugs, and its rehab options are affordable through state funding initiatives.

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