Special Session Begins Tuesday on WA Drug Law–Or Will it?
Tuesday, May 16th, the legislature is supposed to return to Olympia for a special session to hammer out what's referred to as a "fix" for the Supreme Court's Blake Decision. But not all the legislators will be there.
According to some legislators, little to no progress has been made
When Gov. Inslee called for the special session, most people assumed behind the scenes Republican and Democratic legislators had come to some sort of a tentative agreement for drug possession. However, that may not be the case.
According to MyNorthwest.com, the current law expires in July:
"The current state law, which was passed as a stopgap after the Blake decision, expires in July and classifies drug possession as a misdemeanor on the third arrest. There is a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, or both after a third arrest."
However, a very similar compromise bill, SB (Senate Bill) 5536 failed to pass this session, meaning on July 1st, there will be no criminal penalties for drug possession.
Republicans want a bill that treats possession as a gross misdemeanor, with up to 364 days in jail and potential fines of up to $5,000. Democrats disagreed, but a large number on both sides voted against the bill.
Numerous cities and counties have already passed their own ordinances, most of them refer to public drug use, and treat it as a gross misdemeanor. While Inslee cautions against what he referred to as a confusing "scattershot approach" across the state, there's no guarantee the legislature will fix it.
According to numerous sources, the legislature is not anywhere near a final solution, and many legislators are going to stay home and wait until they receive word that the House and Senate leaders and appropriate committee members are close enough to a deal to warrant an actual vote on a bill.
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Gallery Credit: Katelyn Leboff