Statement from Rep. Gina Mosbrucker on Blake drug possession fix; ‘We can do better!’

The state House of Representatives approved amended legislation early Wednesday morning, 54-41, that would classify possession of a controlled substance as a misdemeanor.

The striking amendment to Senate Bill 5536 would provide lesser penalties than the original bill that sought to classify knowing possession of drugs as a gross misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90-days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, while the maximum punishment for a gross misdemeanor is 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Representative Gina Mosbrucker, ranking Republican on the House Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee, voted against the bill and issued the following statement:

“We can do better. We had an agreement between three of the four caucuses that would have provided better legislation to address our state’s drug possession issue. Now we have legislation passing from House Democrats that doesn’t truly address the heart of the issue and help those fighting addiction.

“When somebody is approached on the sidewalk with a heroin needle in their arm, how do we get them to a place where they are stable, they’re healthy, they’re happier, and they’re accountable for their actions and their treatment so they can get better? Unfortunately, this bill does not get us there.

“The original Senate version of a gross misdemeanor would have extended the statute of limitations to two years instead of one. That’s important because there’s often a one-year backlog of those waiting to get through the court system and get treatment. If they are not incarcerated long enough to detox and access programs and they drop off the list, chances are they will not get the treatment they need.

“No one here in the Legislature that I know of wants to criminalize addiction. These are our family members, constituents, and people we care about, and we want to help them. The problem is we currently don’t have enough infrastructure in place in our state to make sure they can get the help and treatment they need. We still need to find a place for them to go, to have a warm place to sleep, get three meals a day, and have access to medical care — even if that is the county jail.

“We cannot just walk by and do nothing. Unfortunately, the legislation approved in the House leaves more questions than answers. People will continue dying in the streets of fentanyl, heroin, LSD and other dangerous drugs because there is not enough accountability for their actions. And sadly, we will be back next year talking about what we should have done to prevent more lives from being destroyed.”

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov