SB 5536 – Blake/Drug Possession

Bill brief
Public Safety, Law Enforcement & Courts 

In February 2021, in the state Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Blake, the justices ruled Washington’s felony drug-possession statute was unconstitutional because it criminalized possession even when a person did not knowingly have drugs. Two months after the Blake ruling, Senate Bill 5476 was passed and it reduced the criminal penalty for possessing an illegal drug like fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine from a felony to a misdemeanor; however, this provision expires on July 1, 2023, and there will be no criminal penalty in state law for possession of a such drugs unless the Legislature enacts a new criminal penalty. In the absence of a state law, local jurisdictions could adopt local ordinances regarding criminal penalties.