Following a Spike in ODs and Death of Children, Bellingham Outlaws Drugs

After statewide deregulation led to increased crime and fatal child overdoses, the city of Bellingham, Washington, which once took pride in being the “most hippie” in the state, has taken drastic measures to outlaw drugs.

Rise in Overdoses

According to Cascadia Daily, between January and April 12, the fire department responded to 223 overdoses, or 2.5 calls per day, in the staunchly liberal city of 92,000. Looking at the trajectory over the years, this is more than a cause for alarm.

From 11 deaths in 2018 to over 90 in 2022.

It is most shocking and devastating and young children are not spared. Among the deceased are two adolescents and a five-year-old who died of a fentanyl overdose in March.

The girl was discovered by police with foam coming from her mouth.

Overdoses are now so common that, in one instance, a victim was deceased for hours before anyone realized it. People can be seen sprawled over in their cars, rusty RVs, and in shopping carts, with the once beautiful city looking like a hell hole.

Finally, on April 10, city officials passed a resolution making it unlawful to “inject, consume, or inhale” hard drugs in public, in contrast to a state law enacted two years ago that decriminalized the possession of drugs.

The Regulation

The death of a five-year-old girl, which led to the arrest of both her parents and a third individual (who have since been charged with murder), along with two teenage deaths, contributed to the municipal council’s decision to take a tougher stance on drugs.

Emily Halasz, 15, was discovered deceased on March 8 at a homeless shelter behind the Home Depot in Bellingham. Aaren Coleman, 17, died at his grandfather’s residence in King County.

However, residents who support a “diversion rather than jail” approach have criticized the government’s stance on open drug use. Those discovered using hard drugs such as meth or fentanyl in the open will be apprehended, but may only face misdemeanor charges under the new rules.

Bellingham’s mayor, Seth Fleetwood, stated the ordinance will also include a “community court” component, in which those arrested may be placed on a diversion program, the specifics of which have not yet been determined.