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Inslee announces special session to take up Washington's drug possession law

FILE - Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee. (Getty Images)
FILE - Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee. (Getty Images)
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Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday he will call a special session for lawmakers to pass a new drug possession law. The special session will begin May 16.

“My office and I have been meeting with legislators from all four caucuses and I am very optimistic about reaching an agreement that can pass both chambers,” Inslee said. “Cities and counties are eager to see a statewide policy that balances accountability and treatment, and I believe we can produce a bipartisan bill that does just that. Details are still being negotiated, but caucus leaders share the desire to pass a bill. I believe that starting the clock on May 16 will put us on a path to getting the job done this month.”

The so-called "Blake fix" was the only remaining must-do item legislators didn't finish during the regular session that ended on April 23, according to Inslee's office. In 2021, the Washington Supreme Court overturned the state's felony drug possession law. Legislators adopted a temporary misdemeanor policy that expires July 1, which would essentially decriminalize the use and possession of all drugs, including fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine.

RELATED: Seattle business owner speaks to drug use, crime around the city

In the absence of a statewide policy, several cities and counties have proposed their own legislation to criminalize drug use in public spaces.

In Seattle, City Attorney Ann Davison and councilmembers Sara Nelson and Alex Pedersen have proposed an ordinance that would ban the use of drugs on sidewalks, at bus stops, aboard public transit, or in city parks. The ban would include many publicly-accessible areas as well. Those who violate it could be charged with a misdemeanor.

RELATED: What is Tacoma's plan when state drug possession law expires July 1?

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Special session are 30 days, but Inslee said if legislators come with an agreed-upon proposal, they should be able to finish within several days and adjourn promptly.

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