Serving Franklin County, WA

Commissioners move ahead with drug possession ordinance

Commissioner Peck, Sheriff Raymond verbally spar over proceedings

PASCO — Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond sparred verbally over drafting a controlled substance ordinance with Commissioner Lowell “Brad” Peck during a meeting this morning, April 27.

Commissioners Peck, Rocky Mullen and Chairman Clint Didier were discussing a possible ordinance in the wake of the state high court’s so-called "Blake decision," which essentially vacated the law making possession of narcotics a crime.

Following the lead of Grant County, County Administrator Keith Johnson provided commissioners with a proposed ordinance making possession a misdemeanor.

Johnson also noted that the Legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Jay Inslee that would allow possession to remain a crime, but directing prosecuting attorneys to refer at least the first two possession offenses to a drug treatment center rather than to criminal proceedings.

“It’s clear there’s an effort in the Legislature to decriminalize possession,” Johnson said.

County Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Sant offered advice on any draft ordinance and suggested commissioners wait and see if the governor signs the bill into law.

Following his input, Mullen also requested Sheriff Raymond also weigh in, a move that Peck objected to.

When the sheriff began to offer comments in response, Peck interrupted.

“There’s still a pending question,” Peck said. “Excuse me, sheriff. Chairman! Hey! enough! I have the floor.”

“Hold tight,” the sheriff responded, offering his support for a county ordinance making possession a misdemeanor as a means to help keep the public safe.

When the sheriff returned to his seat, Chairman Didier restored order to the meeting, saying the board had a consensus to continue working on a local ordinance making possession a misdemeanor crime.

Depending on the governor's actions on the bill, commissioners may have a public hearing on a proposed ordinance in early May.

The heated exchange today was the second since last Tuesday that involved Peck, Didier and Raymond.

During the April 20 discussion of a resolution backing constitutional rights — specifically the First and Second Amendments — Didier tried to shrug off personal comments Peck made about the chairman's declination of mask wearing by calling on Raymond for input.

But Peck interrupted.

“You don’t get to just end my comment. I’m speaking,” Peck told Didier, before the sheriff stepped up to the microphone.

“Actually, I will,” Sheriff Raymond said, ending that exchange.

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Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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