Simple Possession of Drugs Ruled Legal in Washington State
Simple possession of any drug is now legal in the State of Washington. Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic says the State Supreme Court ruled Thursday the state law that makes possession of drugs illegal is unconstitutional. The court today released the following information;
"Simple Possession of Drugs. Washington’s strict liability drug possession statute, RCW 69.50.4013, makes possession of a controlled substance a felony exceeds the State’s police power and violates the due process clauses of the state and federal constitutions. Unintentional, unknowing possession of a controlled substance is the sort of innocent, passive nonconduct that falls beyond the State’s police power to criminalize. The affirmative defense of “unwitting possession,” is insufficient to save Washington’s strict liability drug possession statute. The statute cannot be saved by a judicially added mens rea element.
State v. Blake, No. 96873-0 (Feb. 25, 2021). Justices Stephens, concurred in part and dissented in part. She would have added an implied mens rea. Justices Johnson, Madsen, and Owens dissented. State represented by Spokane County DPA Brett Pearce. WAPA Amicus Brief Authored by Phil Buri. "
Brusic says he's now telling local authorities including Yakima Police and Yakima County Sheriff's Deputies to not arrest people for simple drug possession of any drug. Brusic says he's also arranging for the immediate release of all "pre-trial detainees whose only charged offenses are simple possession. And Brusic is telling county authorities to "obtain orders vacating the judgments of all persons in your jails who are currently only serving time on simple possession. This is best done by sending a list of the defendants to their attorneys." In a memo to county authorities Brusic also says to "recall all arrest warrants issued in cases in which the only charge is simple possession of drugs and either "dismiss with prejudice all cases in which the only charge is simple possession of drugs or note up a motion to file an amended information that charges another crime."