Failure to act legalizes drugs
Last updated 5/19/2023 at 9:36am
The state Legislature is headed back to Olympia this week for a special session specifically to deal with the prospect of all drugs becoming legal July 1.
Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, says he hopes lawmakers will pass a new drug-possession law to fix last year’s so-called “Blake fix.”
At issue is a temporary law that expires at the end of next month relating to possession of drugs in Washington.
The temporary law was implemented during the 2022 legislative session after the state Supreme Court ruled the previous drug-possession law was unconstitutional because it criminalized possession even if a person unknowingly carried or transported drugs.
Under the last “Blake fix,” drug possession was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor statewide. The law had a sunset clause effective at the end of June.
For more than a year, lawmakers vowed to correct their deficiency. And it looked like they may have negotiated d a new “Blake Bill” that would past conservative muster while meeting Seattle-progressive ideas on drugs, possession and addiction.
Lawmakers could’ve passed the measure at any point in the Jan. 1 to April 23 session. Instead, they waited until the waning minutes, and ultimately didn’t have the votes to return to sensible drug possession laws.
As a result, we’re looking at a special session to stop the legalization of drugs on our streets.
And we’re not just talking about a little weed – we’re talking about hard drugs. Fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine could become legal in Washington if lawmakers fail to act.
I hope it doesn’t come to that.
But failure to pass a corrective measure is certainly a possibility.
Sen. Schoesler said last week that lawmakers had been working on a new compromise bill in the wake of being called back to session by Gov. Jay Inslee.
“However, my Senate Republican colleagues and I learned today that the compromise measure being worked on doesn’t have enough support to be passed by both the House and Senate,” he said. “So, it is likely that on Tuesday, both chambers will go into what is called a ‘pro forma session,’ meaning the Senate and House will not actually met on their respective floors until a compromise is reached and ready for a floor debate.”
Failure to re-establish drugs possession as a criminal offense in Washington is not acceptable.
We’re already seeing a number of cities passing local ordinances to make drug possession illegal within their jurisdiction.
But Washington residents deserve better than a hodgepodge of drug possession laws.
Take time this week to call lawmakers’ home offices statewide and tell them you want a common sense, drug possession law back on the books.
If they are not willing to take action, politely suggest they not run for re-election – after all, it’s filing week across the state.
— Roger Harnack is the publisher of Free Press Publishing. Email him at [email protected].