In one of the most radical decriminalization experiments in American history, a prosecutor's office in a Seattle suburb announced it won't prosecute possession of small amounts of drugs.

Any drug. 

Snohomish County, just north of Seattle, is home to nearly 800,000 folks and some of the most beautiful mountains in the country.

The county prosecutor's office there said it lacks the resources to prosecute small-time drug users who don't do anything else wrong. Their cases clog the system. And the users don't stop using — one hundred percent of these people go on to commit the same crime again, the prosecutor said in the statement. 

So they're going to confiscate, but not prosecute, small stashes.

How small is small? 

Less than 2 grams of any drug. Cocaine, heroin, acid, anything.

And fewer than 25 pills of any drug. Molly, fentanyl, anything.

(Weed is, of course, already legal in Washington State.) 

In an interview, radio host Dori Monson pressed deputy prosecuting attorney Craig Matheson on whether the county was opening itself up to becoming, in effect, the drug capital of America. 

"That does sound, in a practical sense, like legalization," Monson said. 

The lawyer, Matheson, said nothing was being legalized; only that the office was shifting priorities. "We were choking on" these small cases, he said. 

"We have so many policies around here that make us a magnet for heroin users," Monson continued. "As the word spreads that the Puget Sound area is the friendliest, maybe in the country, for heroin users or other drug users … aren't we in danger of this problem getting worse and worse?" 

Monson said his office will keep an eye on whether other crimes increase in the county; whether auto theft or porch theft goes up, and might adjust the strategy. 

[cover photo by Stephan Jola on Unsplash]