On the final day of the 2023 legislative session, the Democratic-led state House failed to approve a fix to the 2021 Blake drug possession decision, Senate Bill 5536, by a vote of 43 to 55.
That means that the stopgap bill approved that same year, which sunsets this July, would essentially legalize drug possession in Washington state. Sen. Phil Fortunato had previously voted in support of the contested measure, saying it was “50% carrots and 50% stick.”
After an impasse, the bill was sent to a conference committee and further watered down the state’s approach to dealing with the public drug use problem, and Fortunato, R-Auburn offered the following statement.
“What failed to pass at the last minute to address rampant drug use in our streets was no carrot and no stick. I would not have voted in support of it. After the Legislature adjourns for the year, I will be urging cities in my district to adopt common sense local laws to stop the drug use epidemic.
“The Democrat-controlled Legislature failed the public on this issue. They let the most extreme voices drown out compassion for people languishing in our streets with addiction. Local jurisdictions must act to help drug addicts and keep our communities safe.”