June 18, 2024 8:43 pm

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Mayors across Snohomish County support recriminalizing illegal drugs

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash., May 6, 2023—Fifteen mayors represented by the Mayors and Business Leaders for Public Safety coalition, join forces in a letter urging the Snohomish County Council to pass proposed Ordinance 23-046 to recriminalize controlled and counterfeit substances.

“Currently, cites in Snohomish County and across Washington state are looking to enact laws governing the possession or public use of illegal drugs in our communities. Absent a statewide drug possession statute, we believe the ordinance proposed by the county council will provide a path forward in unincorporated parts of the county that is consistent with what many of our cities are considering,” the letter states.

Hours after the Snohomish County Council led the state in proposing an ordinance to recriminalize illegal drugs after the failure of legislature’s passage of the “Blake fix,” Governor Jay Inslee announced that he will call a special session to begin on May 16 that will focus on passing a new drug possession law.

The ordinance, sponsored by Council President Jared Mead and Council Vice President Nate Nehring, is in response to the passage of SB-5476 in 2021 that contains a sunset provision to Washington State’s penalties for control substances and the state legislature’s failure by the end of the 2023 Legislative Session to address the state Supreme Court’s 2021 Blake decision.

At its early morning Administrative Meeting on Tuesday, May 2, the Snohomish County Council approved, with a vote of 3-2, a Public Hearing for May 17 to propose an ordinance re-criminalizing controlled and counterfeit substances making it a gross misdemeanor. Treatment options as an alternative to incarceration are also included in the ordinance.

Councilmembers Megan Dunn (D-Everett) and Strom Peterson (D-Lynnwood) voted against the proposed May 17 date.

While the mayors are hopeful that the state legislature will craft a new bill by midnight July 1, they “believe it is necessary and prudent to enact legislation at the county and local levels to ensure policies are in place in the event a statewide policy is not enacted.”

Mayors signing the letter are:

  • Cassie Franklin, Everett
  • Brett Gailey, Lake Stevens
  • Jon Nehring, Marysville
  • Russell Wiita, Sultan
  • Barbara Tolbert, Arlington
  • Dale Kaemingk, Brier
  • Dan Rankin, Darrington
  • Steve Yarbrough, Gold Bar
  • Christine Frizzell, Lynnwood
  • Geoffrey Thomas, Monroe
  • Kyoko Matsumoto Wright, Mountlake Terrace
  • Joe Marine, Mukilteo
  • Linda Redmon, Snohomish
  • Sid Roberts, Stanwood
  • Mike Quinn, Woodway

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