House Republicans introduce package of bills to address state Supreme Court drug possession decision

A comprehensive package of legislation was introduced Monday by House Republicans to address repercussions and concerns of a Washington Supreme Court ruling (State v. Blake) on Feb. 25 that deemed the state's simple possession drug law unconstitutional.

“The fallout of the court decision will be devastating and deeply impact public safety for all Washington citizens and our communities. And it will not help those who are suffering with substance abuse,” said Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, who serves as ranking Republican on the House Public Safety Committee. “I'm also really concerned about the message this decision sends to our young people. If law enforcement loses the power to make arrests for narcotics possession, we're going to be losing a powerful deterrent for keeping our kids off drugs.”

“We've seen little to no response from the majority party in the Legislature in relationship with this decision. It's never okay to do nothing,” she added. “Our legislation gets to the heart of the issue. It aims to reduce the scourge of drugs and their effects on our local communities, while helping those most in need.”

“We're doing everything we can to repair the potential damages caused by the Washington State Supreme Court's State v. Blake decision,” said Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, who also serves as the assistant ranking Republican on the House Public Safety Committee. “In the best interest of public safety, we believe we've got sound proposals that will protect those suffering from addiction by providing help, resources, and treatment options they need, while also keeping our children, families, and communities safe.”

Legislation introduced Monday includes:

  • House Bill 1558 would promote recovery and improve public safety by providing behavioral health system responses to individuals with substance use disorder and providing training to law enforcement personnel.
  • House Bill 1559 would provide a behavioral health response to juveniles consuming controlled substances.
  • House Bill 1560 would consider the mental state element of a person's intention to knowingly commit a crime (mens rea) involving offenses related to possession of substances.
  • House Bill 1561 would expand offenses and penalties for manufacture, sale, distribution, and other conduct involving controlled substances and counterfeit substances.
  • House Bill 1562 would allow local governments to enact laws and ordinances relating to possession of controlled substances and counterfeit substances.

“We're hopeful this package will let people know that we are not going to turn a blind eye and let drugs take over our communities. The Legislature needs to step forward with a fix to this decision and to help the people who are suffering with substance abuse issues. This is a good first step in that direction,” concluded Mosbrucker.

The measures are awaiting referrals to House committees for further action.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov