July 13, 2024 6:04 pm

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Bill to legalize hard drugs in Washington state introduced

By Mario Lotmore  |  Lynnwood Times Staff

Olympia, Wash., March 24, 2021 – Yesterday, Senator Manka Dhingra (D – Seattle), introduced SB 5476 to establish personal use amounts for hard drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine within the state of Washington.  The bill is intended to address the State vs. Blake decision on February 25 which ruled that the statute governing simple possession of control substances as unconstitutional.

sdcadmin, Author at Sen. Manka Dhingra - Page 8 of 11
Senator Manka Dhingra (D – Seattle), Legislative District 45

The bill includes a provision to allow a “forensic navigator” to serve as a care coordinator for persons alleged to be in possession of drugs that are within personal use amount limitations. The forensic navigator must only attempt to contact the individual to offer treatment and recovery services which the person is not required to accept.

The penalties for individuals who knowingly possess more than personal use amounts will range from a gross misdemeanor to a class B felony upon conviction which would result in up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The severity of the penalty will depend on if the individual is under 21, and if the drug is a controlled or counterfeit substance.

According to the bill, the following will constitute as personal use amounts within the state of Washington if passed:

  • Forty user units of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methadone
  • Forty pills, tablets, or capsules of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of oxycodone
  • One gram of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin
  • One gram or five pills, tablets, or capsules of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of 3,4- 5 methylenedioxyamphetamine or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamin
  • Two grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine
  • Two grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine
  • Forty user units of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Twelve grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of psilocybin or psilocin

The bill also gives the Director of the Washington state Health Care Authority, who is currently Sue Birch, the authority to establish personal use amounts for hard drugs by rule for recreational or nonmedical use – a.k.a. a Washington state Drug Czar.

In addition, the bill establishes a State vs. Blake account in the state treasury to be used by state and local jurisdictions to reimburse those individuals whose sentences have been invalidated because of the Washington state Supreme Court decision. The account is to be funded by monies collected from civil infractions of those persons who are caught opening or consuming counterfeit or control substances in public. The class 3 civil infraction will have a maximum penalty of $125.

Because SB 5476 includes a declaration of emergency, if passed, voters will not be able to use the referendum process to repeal it. The bill would require a simple majority in both chambers and be signed by the governor within five days of its passing to become law and take effect immediately. Sections of the bill that expire July 1, 2022 are replaced with similar sections that take effect on the same day.

The cutoff date to introduce new bills was March 9. However, because SB 5476 contains an appropriation clause that would impact the state’s budget, the bill can bypass the established 2021 session cutoff deadlines.

Senate Bill 5468, which would make it unlawful for any person to “knowingly” possess a controlled substance has stalled in the Law & Justice committee chaired by Senator Jamie Pedersen (Seattle-D). The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Senators Mullet, Hobbs, Braun, Brown, Hawkins, Holy, King, Muzzall, Padden, Rivers, Salomon, Schoesler, Short, Wagoner, Warnick, and Wilson, L.

A new bipartisan bill, SB 5475, was introduced on March 22 to possibly replace SB 5468. The new bill, also declared an emergency, establishes a legislative work group on the possession of controlled substances. The work group will study the impact of the State v. Blake decision and release its findings to committees by June 30, 2022.

SB 5476 would make Washington state the second state in the United States to legalize personal amounts of hard drugs.  Last year, Oregon became to the first state to do so with the passing of statewide Measure 110 which took effect February 1, 2021.

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18 Responses

  1. Manka Dhingra must feel proud to advocate for more addicts, more brain dead human beings, more crime created from drug use, more people in prison, more poverty created from bread dead people who can’t function in jobs, more abused children from their brain dead parents. Maybe she wants to see firsthand, perhaps in her own family, the affects of drug usage. A lot of time people who advocate for drug usage are users themselves. Otherwise, they would know better. Yep, saw this coming…because Washington has become an Oregon wannabe. We can’t be a better Washington, we have to degrade our state to Oregon’s low level. And, bingo!, here comes Dhingra!

  2. What the hell is going on in our state ! What good could come from this???
    Well when you have far left radicals ran the state they will destroy it!!
    People you need to wake up!!

    1. You obviously haven’t read anything except that all drug users are brain dead, so are their children and so are our elected officials. There are all just aspiring criminals and should be punished harshly. But as you boneheads aren’t willing to accept the science behind addiction and realize it is a health crisis that is treatable and managed, punishing people only ruins their lives and those of their families. Much like alcoholism, it is just as hereditary in nature as alcoholism is in families. We have tried it your way for years and years. It’s now time to try it this way. Other countries have successful track records and have proven that positive repercussions are both compassionate and human as well as successful.
      You probably have no problem with alcohol being decriminalized as many generations believed it should have been for years. But the devastation that it caused was massive. A drug is a drug is a drug. Bottom line and addiction crosses every race, class and generations. Let’s try something besides creating a big windfall to privatization of jails and prisons.
      Wake up, this could be your husband, wife, child or family member who never finds forgiveness and carries this scarlet letter for life.
      I VOTE, IT’S ABOUT TIME. We were the main st jailed state in the US. Who can be proud of that for the love of GOD. Now that is Brain-Dead thinking.

  3. I personally have seen the devastating effects of drug use, even if the quantity is per those listed. This bill is not the answer-it does not help people, it furthers lives lost. I am appalled that this bill is being considered.

  4. At the same time that Washington & Oregon have been reducing penalties and enforcement for non-medical possession and use of drugs, the restrictions on medical patients’ use of the most reliable pain medications known to humans – opiates – have been under increasing restrictions. Both the Washington and Oregon legislation decreasing penalties for non-medical possession and use include provisions for increasing availability of drug treatment, and include provisions for people whose misdemeanor drug activity comes to attention of authorities to have contact with drug treatment professionals.

    Patients who receive opiates for chronic and severe pain are under VERY strict conditions to receive medical care – including frequent meetings with pain specialists, urine tests (to show the patient not only isn’t consuming illicit drugs, but isn’t diverting the prescribed medication), and pill counts, to name a few. If people who have no medical need for drugs are facing less severe government responses to their use and possession of so-called hard drugs, why is it that patients with demonstrably painful medical conditions – law abiding pain patients – are still subject to the same – or increasing – restrictions on their Medical Prescriptions?

  5. People who are disgusted by the idea of revisiting our drug laws should consider the fact that the bad behavior associate with drug use is going on in our society while we have had laws banning non-medical possession, use and trade of those drugs for over 100 years. All the bad behavior that affects other people – stealing, assault, fraud, robbery, etc., would remain illegal.

    Also, consider the fact that self-admitted drug use is considered to be a Mitigating Factor in sentencing, creating motivation for offenders to blame drugs and not themselves for their bad behavior, and offenders willing to claim that “drugs made me do it” get shorter sentences, putting those offenders back on the streets sooner.

    If we:
    * eliminated self-chosen intoxication as a mitigating factor in sentencing
    * made self-admitted intoxication an aggravating factor in sentencing
    * prosecute and punish vigorously all crimes against other people

    We might find drugs to be less of a problem in our society.

    The first step is admitting that what we have been doing since 1914 has not worked.

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