Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber announcement.
Public safety and the perceptions of safety have risen to be one of the top issues facing Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber members, their employees, and our residents here in the South Sound. The scale of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and open drug use in our region and state necessitates that the legislature takes action to create a consistent statewide policy for drug use and possession. If the legislature fails, it will be chaos, as each jurisdiction tries to evaluate and pass its own set of laws that will undoubtedly be different from their neighbors. The challenges in implementing each of these individual laws will likely drive even more confusion around what is and is not acceptable from both criminal justice and public health perspectives. We know that the lack of consistent expectations drives concerns for businesses, law enforcement, and the community at large.
Our community needs to support individuals with behavioral health conditions with treatment options. We also need to provide a robust crisis response system and to address the very real public safety issues that come alongside the use of dangerous drugs. The Chamber stands ready to find solutions as evidenced by our continued support of both Tacoma and Pierce County’s measures to increase funding to address mental health and chemical dependency issues.
A patchwork approach to laws regulating drug use and possession across the state will result in more deaths and more damage to our communities. However, this is exactly what will happen if the state legislature fails to take action. The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber supports a responsible statewide approach that balances accountability, treatment, and consequences. Possession and use of illegal drugs must result in a criminal penalty while at the same time providing a strong focus on diversion options.
Our communities need the legislature to provide a solution that encourages our neighbors to participate in treatment programs while also emphasizing broad community safety. The Chamber, our members, and our community are confident our elected leaders will not let us down.