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Inslee announces special legislative session to pass new drug possession law


The Washington Legislature will attempt to wrap up its unfinished business on drug possession this month.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday he's calling for a special legislative session to begin on May 16, so lawmakers can finalize new drug possession penalties and addiction treatment options.

The announcement comes after Republicans and progressive Democrats rejected changes to the state's drug possession law on the final day of the regular session, after months of back-and-forth negotiations between lawmakers in the House and Senate.

Inslee and other leaders say the special session is vital. Washington's current drug possession statute was initially passed as a temporary solution in response to a state Supreme Court decision in 2021 – commonly referred to as "The Blake Decision" – that struck down the state's felony drug possession penalties. That temporary law expires July 1.

In a statement following Inslee's announcement, Republican Senate Leader John Braun (R-Centralia) said there's no agreed-upon deal yet.

"There have been productive bipartisan discussions over the past week," Braun's statement said. "While I am hopeful for a better outcome this next time around, there is also reason to be cautious."

After the legislature adjourned in April without approving a new law, some cities and counties began creating their own drug penalties to fill the gap.

The special session could wrap up quickly, but could last up to 30 days.

Copyright 2023 Northwest News Network. To see more, visit Northwest News Network.

Jeanie Lindsay