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Washington State Institute for Public Policy

Cannabis Legalization Evaluation

In November 2012, Washington State voters passed Initiative 502 to regulate and tax the use and sale of cannabis for persons twenty-one years of age and older. As part of I-502, WSIPP was directed to “conduct cost-benefit evaluations of the implementation” of the law. The evaluations must include measures of impacts on public health, public safety, cannabis use, the economy, the criminal justice system, and state and local costs and revenues.

A preliminary report was released in September 2015. The second required report was released in September 2017, and the third required report was released in September 2023. The last mandated report is due in 2032.

Previous Findings
Supplemental to the ongoing benefit-cost evaluation of cannabis legalization authorized by Initiative 502 in 2012, the 2018 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to conduct additional cannabis research. WSIPP was directed to update its inventory of programs for the prevention and treatment of youth cannabis use; examine current data collection methods measuring the use of cannabis by youth and potential ways to improve on these methods; and identify effective methods used to reduce or eliminate the unlicensed cultivation or distribution of marijuana in jurisdictions with existing legal marijuana markets.

Related reports:
Monitoring Trends in Use Prior to Implementation of I-502 and Employment and Wage Earnings in Licensed Marijuana Businesses.

Recent Findings
Initiative 502 and Cannabis-Related Public Health and Safety Outcomes: Third Required Report
We describe findings from analyses of the relationship between non-medical cannabis legalization or licensed retail operations and various outcomes. First, we examined how cannabis possession misdemeanor conviction rates changed in Washington after the passage of I-502. Second, we examined how reported cannabis use has changed in Washington after the passage of I-502 compared to non-legalizing states. Last, we specifically focused on the impact of local access to licensed non-medical retailers. For these analyses, we examined how retail access relates to substance abuse and traffic safety outcomes within the state over time.

Reported Substance Use: Using national survey data, we compared changes in the rates of reported cannabis, alcohol, and other substance use in Washington after the enactment of I-502 and the start of a licensed retail market, relative to changes in comparable states that did not legalize non-medical cannabis.

Cannabis-Related Convictions: We examined how rates of cannabis possession misdemeanor convictions have changed since the enactment of I-502. We examined conviction rates separately for different ages, sex, and racial groups.

Traffic Fatalities: We examined the relationship between greater access to licensed non-medical cannabis retailers and the prevalence of fatal traffic collisions. We also examined the relationship between retail accessibility and the prevalence of drivers involved in a fatal crash who test positive for THC both alone and in combination with alcohol.

Substance Use Disorder Diagnoses: We examined the relationship between greater access to licensed non-medical cannabis retailers and the probability of cannabis use disorder, alcohol use disorder, or opioid use disorder diagnoses.

High School Outcomes: We examined the relationship between school proximity to an operational non-medical cannabis retailer and high school outcomes, including attendance, disciplinary outcomes, and high school graduation.
Amani Rashid, (360) 664-9804 View Legislation

Effectiveness of the drug offender sentencing alternative (DOSA)

The 2020 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to evaluate the effectiveness of the drug offender sentencing alternative (DOSA). DOSA allows individuals to participate in treatment and community supervision in lieu of some (Prison DOSA) or all (Residential DOSA) of their incarceration sentence. This evaluation will examine whether participation in DOSA reduces recidivism and whether those effects vary for prison- and residential-based DOSA programs. The legislature directed WSIPP to repeat these evaluations on a regular schedule to continuously monitor the effects of the program.

An introduction to the ongoing report series that describes the development of DOSA can be found here. The initial evaluation report can be found here. Additional evaluation reports are due to the governor and the legislature on November 1, 2028, and every five years thereafter.
Nathan Adams, (360) 664-9070 View Legislation

Creating Prison to Postsecondary Education Pathways

The 2021 Legislature passed 2SHB 1044 expanding the types of postsecondary education programs eligible for state funding in the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) incarceration facilities. The bill directs WSIPP to study recidivism, enrollment, and completion rates of incarcerated persons in the postsecondary education system after release from incarceration. The study will use data from DOC, the Washington Student Achievement Council, and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. The study must include the following:

  • Patterns and effects on post-release enrollment and participation in the community and technical college sector by individuals who, while incarcerated, participated in postsecondary education;
  • Differential outcomes for individuals participating in different types of postsecondary education courses, certificates, and degree programs;
  • Changes in enrollment and completion of postsecondary education courses, certificate programs, and degree programs due to the expansion in postsecondary education programming; and
  • Recidivism outcomes other than incarceration for those individuals who participated in postsecondary education while incarcerated.

A preliminary report is due to the Legislature on October 1, 2024, and a final report is due October 1, 2027.

Julia Cramer, (360) 664-9073 View Legislation

Jail and Juvenile Facility Study

The 2023 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to conduct a study of the Washington jail system and county juvenile justice facilities. As part of the study, WSIPP will contract with the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) to survey Washington jail and juvenile detention facilities. For more information on the elements that must be included in the survey, please see the study assignment language in the legislation linked below.

To the extent possible, the report should include the following:
  • A longitudinal study of how the county jail and county juvenile detention populations have changed over the last 12 years including, but not limited to, an analysis of demographics, physical and behavioral health issues, number of inmates, and types of convictions;
  • An analysis of county jail and county juvenile detention facility survey data provided by the WSAC; and
  • An examination of the availability of criminal justice training commission classes for corrections officers.
The report is due to the governor and the legislature by December 1, 2024.
Corey Whichard, (360) 664-9075 View Legislation

Exclusive Adult Jurisdiction

The 2018 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to assess the impact of changes to the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA), as outlined in E2SSB 6160. To the extent possible, the study should include impacts to community safety, racial disproportionality, recidivism, state expenditures, and youth rehabilitation.

The 2019 Legislature amended WSIPP’s assignment to include an assessment of additional components contained in Sections 2-6 of E2SHB 1646. WSIPP must also conduct a benefit-cost analysis which includes the health impacts and recidivism effects of extending the JJA to include all offenses committed under the age of twenty-one.

A preliminary report was originally due to the legislature by December 1, 2023. In September 2023, the WSIPP Board of Directors voted to shift the deadlines to June 30, 2024. The preliminary report can be found here. A final report is due to the governor and the legislature by December 1, 2031.
Morgan Spangler, (360) 664-9807 View Legislation

Evaluation of Washington's Housing Voucher Program

In 2022, the Washington State Legislature passed 2SHB 1818, which expanded the use of rental vouchers for individuals leaving incarceration in state prisons from three to six months. As a part of this bill, the Legislature directed WSIPP to conduct an evaluation and benefit-cost analysis of Washington’s Housing Voucher Program, accounting for the new expansion to six months. The assignment directs WSIPP to consider not only recidivism outcomes, but also impacts on homelessness, use of public services, and other factors WSIPP deems relevant.

A final report is due to the governor and the Legislature by November 1, 2025.
Travis Taniguchi, (360) 664-9805 View Legislation

DOC Assessments and Charges

The 2023 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to review all assessments and charges imposed on individuals incarcerated in Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities and their family members and the effect of assessments and charges on the financial status of incarcerated individuals.

For more information on the items that must be included in WSIPP’s review, please see the study assignment language in the legislation linked below.

The report is due to the governor and the legislature by June 30, 2025.

Nathan Adams, (360) 664-9070 View Legislation

Adult Corrections Inventory

The 2023 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to update its adult corrections inventory of evidence-based, research-based, and promising programs, and to expand the inventory to include new programs not included in the last WSIPP inventory. The update must focus on programs for incarcerated individuals in prison facilities, including family and relationships programs, learning and working programs, and therapeutic and support programs. WSIPP was directed to prioritize programs currently offered by the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC).

The preliminary report can be found here. The preliminary report identifies the programs currently offered in DOC prison facilities and lists the new programs to be reviewed for the updated adult corrections inventory.

A final report of the updated adult corrections inventory will also list programs currently offered in DOC prison facilities and will include a determination of each program’s likely effectiveness in reducing recidivism based on WSIPP’s analysis of available evaluation studies. The final report is due by December 31, 2024.

Rebecca Goodvin, (360) 664-9077 View Legislation

Evaluation of DOC Community Services Experiment

After individuals are transferred out of incarceration to partial confinement or released to the community, case managers refer these individuals to reentry service providers. The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) is conducting an experiment to examine methods to increase access to community providers to reduce the likelihood of recidivism. WSIPP’s Board of Directors approved a contract with DOC for WSIPP to evaluate this experiment. The final report is due December 1, 2025.
Travis Taniguchi, (360) 664-9805

Visitation with Incarcerated People


Past research on prison visitation consistently finds that most incarcerated people never receive a single visit while incarcerated. A major reason for this is that individuals are frequently sent to prison facilities that are not located near their home community. As a result, participating in prison visitation often requires friends and family to travel long distances. In addition to paying for transportation, visitors may need to cover the costs of lodging, childcare, and lost wages from taking time off work. Because it is common for incarcerated individuals to come from economically disadvantaged communities, one of the main explanations for low rates of visitation is that many people who wish to visit incarcerated loved ones cannot afford to do so.

At the same time, evidence suggests that increasing visitation may benefit the correctional system and public safety. In addition, since it is common for people to live with family when they first leave prison, visitation plays an important role in helping individuals maintain these relationships while preparing for community reentry.

The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) offers several programs to facilitate visitation. WSIPP will examine whether the behavior of incarcerated individuals (measured through infractions) changes before or after a scheduled visitation, if there are any impacts on behavior conditional upon the type of visit, and if patterns of visitation impact recidivism.

A report will be published in the fall of 2025.
Corey Whichard, (360) 664-9075 View Legislation

Contracting Processes of Correctional Industries

The 2023 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to study the contracting practices for goods and services and manufactured products made or offered by Correctional Industries (CI) to state agencies and others within the state. The report must address the following:
  • Determine the costs of all contracts utilizing the labor of incarcerated individuals providing services or the manufacture of goods for state entities and other political subdivisions;
  • Compare the cost savings to Washington that is projected when those goods and services are procured from or produced by CI and not private businesses engaged in a competitive bidding process with the state and its various political subdivisions;
  • Provide a detailed break out of the total number of labor positions that are offered to incarcerated individuals and the rate per hour of the gratuities the individuals are given monthly for this labor;
  • Provide a detailed listing of all commissary items purchased by and offered for sale to individuals incarcerated within the facilities operated by the Department of Corrections; and
  • Provide a comprehensive list of all positions offered by CI that provide substantive training and labor-ready skills for individuals to assume positions in the workforce outside of incarceration; and to the extent the data allows,
  • Provide the number of individuals who have positions upon release that were obtained with skills obtained through work at CI.
For more information on the items that must be included in WSIPP’s review, please see the study assignment language in the legislation linked below. The report is due to the governor and the legislature by June 30, 2025.
Travis Taniguchi, (360) 664-9805 View Legislation

Improving Evaluations of Programs Offered by DOC


It is widely recognized that experimental research is the strongest design for testing causal relationships between variables. Despite the importance of experimental research in understanding the impact of incarceration and prison programming, its use in correctional settings is rare for both practical and ethical reasons.

A preliminary literature review identified few studies that have used experimental designs or natural experiments in partnership with the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC). Much more commonly, quasi-experimental research has been used to assess policies and program impacts. WSIPP will work with DOC to explore potential ways that WSIPP could collaborate with DOC to produce improved policy evaluations for corrections programs offered in Washington State.

A report will be published in the summer of 2025.
Colin Gibson, (360) 664-9085 View Legislation

Recovery Navigator and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program Study


The 2023 Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State Health Care Authority to contract with WSIPP to study the short-term implementation and long-term effectiveness of the Recover Navigator Program (RNP) authorized under RCW 71.24.115 and the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs authorized under RCW 71.24.589.

The first report will be an implementation assessment of statewide RNP and LEAD programs. It will include descriptions of the current state of RNP and LEAD program implementation, the core principles of these programs as currently implemented, barriers to achieving higher fidelity to core principles established by RNP and LEAD administration, best practices published in existing research or by other relevant stakeholders, and the utilization of technical support of the LEAD national support bureau. The report will also provide further recommendations for additional research and analysis that may be needed.

The implementation assessment is due to the legislature by June 30, 2025.

Additional reports are due on June 30, 2028, June 30, 2033, and June 30, 2038.
Travis Taniguchi, (360) 664-9805 View Legislation

The Needs of Farmworkers

The 2022 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to conduct a comprehensive study of the needs of farmworkers in the state to help policymakers determine whether those needs are being met by state-administered programs, policies, and statutes. WSIPP must focus on needs related to health and safety in the workplace, payment of wages, and preventing harassment and discrimination of, and retaliation against, farmworkers for asserting their rights regarding health and safety standards, wage and hour laws, and access to services. The information must be based on surveys or interviews conducted by Latino nonprofit agencies with well-established connections to farmworkers.

WSIPP must also examine how relevant state agencies coordinate with each other and federal agencies in enforcing the laws and policies related to farmworkers and review available data and research on programs intended to provide farmworkers access to services and benefits.

A preliminary report can be found here, and a final report is due to the legislature by June 30, 2025.

Cory Briar, (360) 664-9801 View Legislation

Conservation District Elections

The 2023 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to examine the costs associated with conservation district elections under current law and the projected costs and benefits of shifting conservation district elections to be held on general election ballots. The study must include the following:
  • An analysis of the amount of money that each conservation district spends on holding elections for supervisors under current law and a description of the funding sources that each conservation district utilizes to fund its elections;
  • Information about voter turnout in each conservation district supervisor election in at least the past six years and up to the past 20 years, if the conservation district has such data, as well as a calculation of the total cost per ballot cast that each conservation district spent in those elections;
  • A projection of the costs expected to be incurred by each county and each conservation district for its supervisor elections if the district were to hold its supervisor elections on general election ballots.
  • A projection of the costs that would be expected to be incurred by each county and each conservation district for its supervisor elections if, in addition to the changes mentioned above, the conservation districts were divided into zones such that each zone is represented by a single supervisor, rather than electing each supervisor at-large throughout the district; and
  • An overall description of potential nonmonetary costs and benefits associated with switching conservation district supervisor elections to the general election ballots and incorporating the abovementioned changes.
A preliminary report was originally due to the Legislature by December 1, 2023, and a final report was due by June 30, 2024. In June 2023, the WSIPP Board of Directors voted to shift the deadlines to December 1, 2024, and June 30, 2025.
Cory Briar, (360) 664-9801 View Legislation

Traumatic Brain Injury Services

The 2023 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to study the potential need for developing specialized long-term services and supports for adults with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). At a minimum, the study must include the following:

  • The demographics of adults with traumatic brain injuries in the state who are anticipated to require long-term services and supports, including an examination of those who are likely to be eligible for Medicaid long-term services and supports;
  • The industry standards of providing long-term care services and supports to individuals with traumatic brain injuries; and
  • Other states' methods to provide long-term services and support to individuals with TBIs including the rates paid for these services and a description of any specialized facilities established to deliver these services.
The report is due to the governor and the legislature by June 30, 2025.
Benjamin MacCormack-Gelles, (360) 664-9080 View Legislation

Emergency Medical Services


The 2024 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP, in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Health Care Authority (HCA), to study the current landscape of emergency medical services (EMS) in Washington. The study aims to evaluate the current EMS landscape and explore how other states fund or have considered funding EMS through federal, state, or local government.

WSIPP’s study includes examining trends in the number and types of EMS available, the volume of 911 responses, and the volume of interfacility transports provided by EMS organizations. Trends will be examined over time and across counties in Washington. Our study will also estimate the projected need for EMS services over the next two years.

Furthermore, WSIPP’s study will identify geographic disparities in EMS access, specifically noting areas without access to EMS services within a 25-minute average response time. WSIPP is also tasked with estimating the costs required to address gaps in EMS coverage and ensure timely access to services statewide.

In addition, the study will investigate models for EMS used by other states and review existing research and literature on EMS funding strategies.

To inform its findings, WSIPP will engage with EMS organizations, local governments, hospitals, labor organizations representing EMS personnel, and other relevant stakeholders identified by WSIPP and DOH, HCA, and the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

A report is due to DOH and the legislature by June 1, 2026.
Amani Rashid, (360) 664-9804 View Legislation

Evaluation of the Guided Pathways Model

The 2021 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to evaluate the Guided Pathways Model. Guided Pathways is a community and technical college reform that aims to improve student experience and outcomes through changes to academic program structure, advising, instruction, and progress monitoring.

WSIPP’s preliminary report will review the implementation of the Guided Pathways Model in Washington and any available evidence of the effectiveness of the Guided Pathways Model. If possible, this report will also evaluate the effect of the Guided Pathways Model on early student outcomes, including, but not limited to, student retention and persistence, college-level English and math within the first year, graduation and transfer rates. The preliminary report can be found here.

A final report will evaluate the effect of Guided Pathways on longer-term student outcomes including, but not limited to, degree completion, time to degree, transfer to four-year institutions, employment, and earnings, to the extent possible. The final report is due in December 2029.

Julia Cramer, (360) 664-9073 View Legislation

LAP Inventory: Effective Practices to Assist Struggling Students

The 2013 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to prepare an inventory of evidence- and research-based practices, strategies, and activities for school districts to use in the Learning Assistance Program (LAP).

The state program provides supplemental academic support to eligible K-12 students achieving below grade level or not on track to meet local or state graduation requirements. LAP funds may support programs in reading, writing, mathematics, and readiness, as well as programs to reduce disruptive behavior.

An initial report was released in July 2014. Updates were published in July 2015, July 2016, June 2018, and July 2020. The inventory will be updated every two years thereafter.

WSIPP was scheduled to update the inventory in 2022. Instead of an update, WSIPP assessed the use of the inventory. In the absence of the regular update, WSIPP published a historical review of the LAP inventory, describing potential changes resulting from 2021 legislation, and offering a discussion of options regarding the future of the inventory. In 2024, WSIPP will be updating some LAP program findings. Those results will be released on the Benefit-Cost section of our website by the end of December 2024.

Julia Cramer, (360) 664-9073 View Legislation Presentation to House Education Committee, January 15, 2013 Presentation to Senate Ways & Means, January 20, 2014

Community and Technical Education Skill Centers

WSIPP receives funding from the legislature to conduct research on K-12 education topics that are relevant to Washington. In 2024, WSIPP will study Career and Technical Education (CTE) skill centers. CTE skill centers are regional secondary schools that serve high school students across multiple school districts and provide programs that are too expensive or specialized for school districts to operate individually. WSIPP’s report will focus on student access to CTE skill centers, student characteristics, and student outcomes such as graduation and employment. The report will be published by October 15, 2024.
Rebecca Goodvin, (360) 664-9077

Breast Cancer Programs in Native Communities


The 2024 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to examine peer states’ programming related to breast cancer for native communities. Specifically, WSIPP is directed to describe programs for education and prevention before diagnosis, and support and resources after diagnosis, and to summarize any available research on these programs. The programs must be operated by the state, tribes, or tribes in coordination with the state.

The report is due to the legislature by June 30, 2025.,/br>
Rebecca Goodvin, (360) 664-9077 View Legislation

Assessment of Passenger and Air Cargo Forecasts


The 2024 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to assess the passenger and air cargo forecasts cited in the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Regional Aviation Baseline Study. This assessment will include an evaluation of the underlying data, assumptions, methodologies, and calculation of the level of uncertainty around the forecast.

Additionally, WSIPP was tasked with conducting a literature review to identify effective national and international strategies to reduce demand for air travel. These strategies could include diverting air travel demand to alternative modes of transportation to avoid environmental impacts on overburdened communities and vulnerable populations.

Lastly, the report will review existing operational and technological enhancements designed to address the environmental impacts of commercial aviation activities. This includes examining climate-friendly aircraft technologies, innovations targeting the climate effects of non-CO2 emissions from aviation, simulation models for congested airports, and online tools for tracking, analyzing, and improving the carbon footprints of aviation activities. The review will assess the feasibility of implementing these enhancements within Washington.

A report is due to the legislature by December 31, 2025.
Morgan Spangler, (360) 664-9807 View Legislation