Inslee: ‘There’s cause for optimism’ in a special session to pass a new drug law

May 2, 2023, 10:03 AM

drug law...

(Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

With Inslee’s recent announcement that he would not run for reelection, he sat down with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien to talk about the possibility of a new drug law in the state, despite the official legislative session ending last week.

When asked why he decided that this would be his last term in office, Inslee said that he had already achieved everything he set to do while in office, have the Seattle Kraken make the NHL playoffs.

Controversial WA drug possession bill fails, laws could be made locally

“I finally realized our state’s highest ambition, we’ve got the Kraken in the playoffs. And so we have, we’ve achieved what I set out to do,” Inslee said jokingly. “And actually, there is some truth. I mean, we have done some really pretty spectacular things in the last decade…There’s only been one three-term governor, and I just feel having a first-term governor instead of a fourth term is the right thing for the state right now.”

The topic turned to the State Legislature’s failure to pass a replacement drug possession law, with the current regulation expiring in two months.

Senate Bill 5536 was introduced to radically change drug possession laws after the Washington state Supreme Court struck down the drug possession law in 2021. The court ruled the law unconstitutional because it did not require proof to charge people with drugs in their possession, including charges against people who were unknowingly possessing illegal substances.

The current state law, which was passed as a stopgap after the Blake decision, expires in July and classifies drug possession as a misdemeanor on the third arrest. There is a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, or both after a third arrest.

The Washington state Legislature failed to pass a remedy to the state’s drug possession law after the House rejected a bill that would have made the possession and use of hard drugs a gross misdemeanor.

“So I meet just about an hour ago with legislative leaders to nail down a date [for a special session.] I think there’s cause for optimism and getting a bill,” Inslee said. “We do not want to forget the two things we need to do. Number one, we have to get additional treatment for drugs. That was the addiction problem that we have, and number two, we do have to have some sanctions, some lever to encourage people to go into treatment, meaning keeping a criminal sanction for those who are not going to treatment. And I think we have reason to believe we can accomplish that this year. ”

Inslee has the ability to call legislators back into session for a special 30-day period and plans on calling lawmakers back sometime in May, saying he might announce something Tuesday afternoon.

“People thought that there was a route to a majority, and it turned out there was not I think this is going to end up to be a bipartisan effort. I think both Democrats and Republicans will ultimately help in passing a version of this,” Inslee said. “And again, I want to get this done as soon as possible so that cities don’t have to adopt their own unique approach. And we have a scattershot approach across the state. So I do want to get this done in May.”

Since the bill did not pass before the end of the legislative session, no drug possession laws will exist statewide, and cities and counties have been creating their own drug possession laws with varying penalties and treatment options.

You can listen to Inslee’s full discussion on the state budget’s, his decision not to run for reelection, and the possibility of a new drug law here:

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Local News

seattle drug possession...

L.B. Gilbert and Frank Sumrall

Councilmember Nelson: Failed drug possession law is ‘not the War on Drugs’

The Seattle City Council voted 5-4 against a bill that would have given City Attorney Ann Davison the authority to prosecute people for drug possession.

1 day ago

Seattle Home for Sale...

Bill Kaczaraba

Expert: ‘We will never see interest rates of 3% or lower ever again.”

The glory days of 30-year mortgage rates of  3% or less may be in the rearview mirror.

1 day ago

rental assistance fraud...

L.B. Gilbert

6 charged in ‘one of the largest’ rental assistance fraud cases ever

Federal prosecutors call it one of the country's most prolific rental assistance fraud cases, with the culprits facing a 26-count indicment

1 day ago

Boeing lawsuit stealing...

Bill Kaczaraba

Boeing accused of stealing trade secrets in new lawsuit

Boeing is facing another lawsuit, this time, the aerospace giant is being accused of stealing trade secrets to build a moon rocket.

1 day ago

Seattle schools decrease gun violence...

L.B. Gilbert

Seattle Schools unveils new safety plan to decrease gun violence

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced several security improvements to help decrease gun violence across the district.

1 day ago

Funko headquarters...

Bill Kaczaraba

No fun at Funko as move from Everett goes south

Everett took a big hit when Funko moved a large part of its operations to Arizona. Now, the bobblehead company faces a class action lawsuit.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

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!

Inslee: ‘There’s cause for optimism’ in a special session to pass a new drug law