Abbarno co-sponsors package of bills to address state Supreme Court drug possession decision

A comprehensive package of legislation was introduced Monday by House Republicans to address repercussions and concerns of a Washington Supreme Court ruling (State v. Blake) on Feb. 25 that deemed the state's simple possession drug law unconstitutional.

Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, says the decision is retroactive and could affect thousands of convictions going back 50 years or longer. The 20th District lawmaker signed on as co-sponsor of legislation to help counter fallout from the ruling. Legislation introduced Monday includes:

  • House Bill 1558 would promote recovery and improve public safety by providing behavioral health system responses to individuals with substance use disorder and providing training to law enforcement personnel. Rep. Abbarno co-sponsor. The measure has been referred to the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.
  • House Bill 1559 would provide a behavioral health response to juveniles consuming controlled substances. Rep. Abbarno co-sponsor. The measure has been referred to the Children, Youth and Families Committee.
  • House Bill 1560 would consider the mental state element of a person's intention to knowingly commit a crime (mens rea) involving offenses related to possession of substances. Rep. Abbarno co-sponsor. The measure has been referred to the Public Safety Committee.
  • House Bill 1561 would expand offenses and penalties for manufacture, sale, distribution, and other conduct involving controlled substances and counterfeit substances. Rep. Abbarno co-sponsor. The measure has been referred to the Public Safety Committee.
  • House Bill 1562 would allow local governments to enact laws and ordinances relating to possession of controlled substances and counterfeit substances. The measure has been referred to the Public Safety Committee.

“As an attorney and legislator, I know how important it is that our state address the 'Blake Decision',” said Abbarno. “Substance abuse and behavior health issues must be addressed now. We can't just sit on our hands and watch communities and families get destroyed. I am very proud of our House Republican Caucus for tackling this complicated and important issue, and I am proud to support these bills. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take action this session.”

Although legislative deadlines have passed, Abbarno says it's important the Legislature not wait, but act on these bills during the current 2021 session, which is scheduled to end April 25.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov