Tag Archives: Drug Possession Laws

New State Drug Laws May End Some Deportation Proceedings, But Risks Remain

by Paul Kiefer

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


When the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in February that the State’s harsh drug possession laws were unconstitutional, most lawmakers, prosecutors and defense attorneys hurried to prepare for the ruling’s vast consequences for the state’s court system and the tens of thousands of people whose convictions for drug possession are now baseless.

Among those impacted by the ruling, State of Washington v. Blake, are immigrants convicted for simple drug possession under Washington’s pre-Blake drug laws. Some are currently facing deportation because of a drug possession conviction; others have already been deported.

Continue reading New State Drug Laws May End Some Deportation Proceedings, But Risks Remain

What Became of the Legislature’s Big Plans for Police Reform?

by Paul Kiefer

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


At the beginning of the legislative session in January, police accountability appeared to be front and center on many legislators’ agendas. By the time the session ended last Sunday, April 25, lawmakers had narrowed a broad array of police reform proposals to a core list of bills that expand the State’s role in police oversight and tactics, although some efforts to address gaps in police oversight — particularly police union contracts — fell short.

The agency that will play an enforcement role in the legislature’s police reform efforts is the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC), a group of civilians and law enforcement officers appointed by the governor that has the power to issue — and revoke — licenses to work as a law enforcement officer in Washington. On Sunday, the legislature sent a bill to Gov. Jay Inslee that will expand the CJTC’s authority to investigate officers for misconduct and suspend or revoke their licenses, a process known as decertification.

Continue reading What Became of the Legislature’s Big Plans for Police Reform?

The Morning Update Show — 4/27/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Tuesday, April 27

Joe Nguyen running for County Executive | Criminalization of Drug Possession | Alaska Air’s “Commitment Plane” takes flight | The Soul Pole Update | The lack of empathy in local leadership

Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 4/27/21

Washington Legislature Re-Criminalizes Drug Possession in Last Minute Vote

by Paul Kiefer

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


After a last-minute rush to pass legislation in response to the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision in February that rendered the existing drug possession laws void, the Washington State Legislature passed new legislation on Saturday, April 24, re-criminalizing low-level drug possession by making it a misdemeanor and requiring local jurisdictions to provide treatment options for drug users. The bill, ESB 5476, directs law enforcement officers to divert people who violate the new law to “assessment, treatment, or other services” for the first two violations; after the second violation, a violator can be referred for prosecution and, potentially, a fine or jail.

After making compromises to pass the bill before the final day of the legislative session on Sunday, many lawmakers are not fully satisfied with the result. But had the legislature not passed a new law regulating drug possession, some lawmakers worried that a patchwork of local policies and enforcement practices would have filled the vacuum.

The decision that precipitated the scramble to adjust Washington’s drug possession laws, called State of Washington v. Blake, ruled that Washington’s so-called “strict liability” drug possession laws — which made no distinction between intentional and unintentional drug possession — violated the due process rights enshrined in both the state and federal constitutions.

Continue reading Washington Legislature Re-Criminalizes Drug Possession in Last Minute Vote

The Morning Update Show — 4/26/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Monday, April 26

Guest Host Brian Callanan | 16-year-old murdered in Rainier Beach | Police Reform Laws | New Drug Laws | Capital Gains Tax | Seattle News, Views, and Brews

Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 4/26/21

Lawsuit Challenges State and Counties to Refund Financial Penalties for Drug Charges

by Paul Kiefer

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


A nonprofit representing formerly incarcerated Washington residents is suing the state and its 39 counties in an attempt to address one of the loose ends left by the state Supreme Court’s landmark opinion in February ruling all simple drug possession charges unconstitutional.

The Seattle-based Civil Survival Project filed the class action lawsuit on Thursday, April 15, in an effort to stop the state, county superior courts, and private contractors from collecting Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) tied to simple drug possession convictions. An LFO is a financial penalty that a court imposes when convicting a person of a crime; the penalty is broken into components, including a fee to cover the costs of filing the criminal case and a fee to cover the collection of a DNA sample.

Continue reading Lawsuit Challenges State and Counties to Refund Financial Penalties for Drug Charges