Lawmakers consider options to change Washington drug laws and require rehab for offenders

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WASHINGTON — Washington lawmakers are considering several bills to decide how the state will handle drug laws in the wake of a 2021 supreme court ruling that struck down the state’s felony drug possession statute.

A stopgap measure passed by the legislature after the supreme court’s ‘Blake decision’ will expire this summer.

The Senate Law and Justice committee heard proposals Tuesday for new laws that would criminalize drug possession and incentivize drug users to go to rehab.

Sen. Jesse Salomon (D – Shoreline) is sponsoring one of the proposals, SB 5476, which would require people arrested for drug possession to engage in treatment or face at least 45 days in jail.

“Our communities are suffering from rampant public drug use. I think we need to send a message to judges that they need to take these charges seriously,” Salomon said. “This creates a system where they can be arrested, not with the intent to jail them but to say, look, the state and cities they need an option to get people into treatment.”

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