The ‘hippie’ city in Washington bans drugs

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Global Courant 2023-05-08 16:50:39

A city once considered “hippie” in Washington recently banned drug use after a spike in fentanyl overdoses, including the death of a 5-year-old girl.

Edwin Williams, a city councilman in Bellingham, Washington, said overdoses became so common in his town that a corpse was left on a bench for 12 hours.

“A man was sitting on the curb in a parking lot with his head bowed, straight out in the open…and a police officer told me he had been dead for at least 12 hours,” Williams told The New York Post in a report. published on Bellingham Sunday. “It shocked me to the bone.”

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The Bellingham City Council voted in April to criminalize open drug use — a decision that came two years after the Washington legislature decriminalized hard drugs in response to a decision by the state’s Supreme Court.

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A city once considered “hippie” in Washington banned drug use after a spike in fentanyl overdoses, including the death of a 5-year-old girl. (iStock)

The city leaders’ turnaround came after a 5-year-old overdosed on fentanyl in March, as did two teenagers. The Bellingham Fire Department said it was responding to more than two overdoses per day between January and April 12 — a rate nearly double that of the year before, according to Cascadia Daily.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years, and no, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Williams told The New York Post. “I would characterize our city as one that is trying and willing to bend over backwards to help people and provide programs to address addiction or homelessness.”

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The Bellingham City Council voted in April to criminalize open drug use — a decision that came two years after the Washington legislature decriminalized hard drugs in response to a decision by the state’s Supreme Court. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

“But right now — the combination of COVID, the ubiquity of fentanyl, and the state law change — pushed everything to the limit,” Williams continued. “It was just the perfect storm and something had to happen at some point.”

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In 2018, local media boasted that Bellingham in particular was named “the most hippie city in Washington” by the site OnlyInYourState. Since then, however, the number of victims due to drug use has risen sharply.

According to the Whatcom County Medical Examiner’s Office, overdose deaths in Bellingham rose from 11 in 2018 to 89 in 2022.

Governor Jay Inslee, D-Wash., has pushed to end decriminalization in the state in response to the fentanyl crisis. (Photo by Elaine Thompson – Pool/Getty Images)

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A 2021 Washington Supreme Court decision struck down a law that criminalized simple possession of drugs. State lawmakers responded to the decision with a drug decriminalization bill due to expire in July. The state senate last month tried but failed to push through a bill that would criminalize drug use.

Governor Jay Inslee, D-Wash., has pushed to end decriminalization in the state in response to the fentanyl crisis.

Patrick Hauf is a political writer for Fox News Digital.

The ‘hippie’ city in Washington bans drugs

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