Mixed Support For New Drug Possession Bill
In a recent post here, "In a narrow 5-4 decision, the justices....ultimately concluded that lawmakers had been aware of the hole in the statute for many years, but decided not to change it. The whole law, therefore, was unconstitutional, meaning every case that involved drug possession must be reexamined......Possible legal implications include possible resentencing; parole violators may have records cleared; fines may need refunding and more" . The policy director of the Washington State Association of Counties says it could amount to at least a $100 million dollar cost.
This week that lawmakers approved Senate Bill 5476 that would reinstate criminal penalties for drug possession. According to the Associated Press, the version that passed Thursday brings back criminal penalties for drug possession but instead of being considered as felonies, those criminal infractions would now be treated as gross misdemeanors.
The Tri-Cities Herald reports that "following the Supreme Court’s decision, at least a few jurisdictions immediately started pursuing local action to recriminalize drug possession. Lawmakers have consistently voiced that there needs to be state action on the issue this session to avoid a patchwork of such approaches."
Minority Leader Sen. John Braun of Centralia says, "Anybody that’s serious understands this has to be dealt with before we leave."
The 105-day session is scheduled to adjourn April 25 — 10 days after the Senate’s vote — and they have budgets to finalize and other policy priorities in play.