Muzzall says drug possession fix a ‘step toward a solution’

The state Senate worked late into the evening this past Friday, struggling over a bipartisan compromise to state drug possession laws. In 2021, the state Supreme Court handed down its Blake decision, which ruled Washington’s felony drug possession law was unconstitutional. Since the Legislature was still in session, it approved a stopgap measure during the 2021 session that was set to expire in July of this year.

Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor, voted in favor of Senate Bill 5536, which was approved by a mixed vote after hours of contentious negotiations and floor debate. The proposal would create a schedule of drug possession offense levels and diversion programs, would define prosecutorial deferrals, would clarify sentencing requirements, and would allocate resources for implementation. Muzzall issued the following statement:

“We spent nearly six hours working on this Blake fix Friday night. It isn’t perfect, but I’m proud of the individuals who spent so much time over the past weeks working on a compromise that I feel good about voting for. This legislation gives a path for people struggling with addiction to get them into treatment and that is needed, but it also balances the need for consequences and accountability, which has been sorely lacking since 2021.

“While there was a great deal of discussion on the Senate floor that characterized the drug offenders as victims, there was really no mention of the people, businesses and communities that were being victimized. Some seemed content to gloss over the rise in theft, broken storefronts, vandalism and proliferation of encampments along our roadways. The people I represent deserve a solution to this problem that only seems to be getting worse. Hopefully, this legislation is a step toward a real solution.”