Federal Way mayor in full support of bills re-criminalizing drug possession

Feb 7, 2023, 12:35 PM | Updated: 1:16 pm
Jim Ferrell addresses the press in a news conference on Sept. 7, 2022. (KIRO Newsradio)
(KIRO Newsradio)

Multiple bills have flooded the state legislature to reclassify drug possession — including fentanyl — as a felony offense.

SB 5536, coined as the Robinson Bill, makes knowing possession of a counterfeit or controlled substance a gross misdemeanor and makes knowing possession of an FDA-approved drug a misdemeanor.

SB 5467, known as the Salomon Bill, voices similar language compared to SB 5536, with a provision that states when law enforcement issues a citation for a violation, no warrant may be issued for failure to appear at the arraignment unless the person was served with the notice of the hearing.

Federal Way’s gun buyback runs out of gift cards early

“Now I actually prefer the 36 because it repeals that whole ridiculous thing about two prior referrals, the two prior warnings. We’ve been in a state of de facto legalization of hard drugs,” said Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell on KIRO Newsradio. “But I also liked the idea that, if charged with a simple possession of some sort of controlled substance, if they complete treatment, then the charge would be dismissed.”

Under current Washington state law, it takes three drug possession arrests to get charged with a crime, and it is classified as a misdemeanor.

“From an enforcement standpoint, you’ve got people being able to use drugs with no enforcement mechanism at all, they’re on the side of the road or out in public, and it’s just ridiculous,” Ferrell said. “We’ve also got car theft in Federal Way as a result of a lot of different policies. It has gone up dramatically in the past year and a half, and a lot of burglaries and robberies are to fuel drug habits. So that’s really where we’ve seen a dramatic increase in crime.”

On Feb. 25, 2021, the Washington Supreme Court issued a decision declaring the state’s main drug possession statute unconstitutional in a case known as State v. Blake. In 2016, Shannon Blake was arrested in Spokane for simple drug possession, but Blake argued that she did not know there was a baggie of methamphetamine in the jeans she had received from a friend.

According to the Addictions, Drug, and Alcohol Institute with the University of Washington, drug cases dropped exponentially following the 2021 Supreme Court decision. After recording nearly 5,500 cases of methamphetamine in 2020, Washington state produced just 1,257 in 2021. From the same stretch of time, heroin cases dropped from 2,574 to 647, cocaine cases dropped from 359 to 154, and even cannabis cases dropped from 456 to 198.

In Spokane County, Sheriff John Nowels used a panel last week to discuss how, on top of everything else, social media apps have increased the difficulty in tracking fentanyl overdoses, according to The Spokesman Review.

“It just ignores the reality of people in the grips of addiction, and what will occur is, you’ve got people that will be using [drugs] in broad daylight across the street from schools in public settings, in which law enforcement will have no opportunity to intercede whatsoever,” Ferrell said. “What that means is people can be literally sitting on a park bench and shooting up heroin or fentanyl out in the open public. I just don’t think that’s what, as a collective society, we have agreed to. That’s surrender, frankly.”

Redmond’s new police tech working in tandem with WA pursuit laws

Amid tackling Federal Way’s ongoing drug crisis, Ferrell, alongside King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, and Washington Representative Jamila Taylor, broke ground on 334 new units for affordable housing last week in tandem with Multi-Service Center (MSC) and housing developer Shelter Resources (SRI).

Local News

Former President Donald Trump listens as he speaks with reporters while in flight on his plane afte...
Associated Press

Donald Trump indicted; expected to surrender next week

A lawyer for Donald Trump said Thursday he's been told that the former president has been indicted in New York.
1 day ago
ferry crash...
Chris Sullivan

WA Ferries blames ship captain for Cathlamet ferry crash

The captain is to blame, according to the Washington State Ferries in its internal report on the crash of the Cathlament ferry last summer.
1 day ago
parking rates...
Micki Gamez

Seattle on-street parking rates continue to increase

"The Seattle local laws require, that a few times a year, we adjust the parking rates based on real-time data," Bergerson said.
1 day ago
Intercity Transit bus in Olympia (Photo from Flickr @Intercity Transit Advantage)...
L.B. Gilbert

Man chokes teenage girl, tries to kiss her at Lacey bus stop

A teenage girl reported to Lacey police that while she was waiting for a bus, a man assaulted her. The man was recently released from prison.
1 day ago
missing child...
L.B. Gilbert

Seattle police look for missing 8-year-old child last seen in Ravenna

Seattle police have an alert out in hopes of finding an 8-year-old who has been missing since about 11 p.m. Wednesday.
1 day ago
Pittsburgh Police and paramedics respond to Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School for what turned...
Associated Press

Washington man charged in 20-plus ‘swatting’ calls around US

SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. authorities on Thursday said they arrested a Washington state man who made more than 20 “swatting” calls around the country and in Canada, prompting real emergency responses to his fake reports of bombs, shootings or other threats. Ashton Connor Garcia, 20, of Bremerton, used voice-over-internet technology to conceal his identity as […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.
Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Federal Way mayor in full support of bills re-criminalizing drug possession