Hawkins issues statement on passage of Senate’s drug possession bill

The Washington State Senate today approved Senate Bill 5536 sponsored by  Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett. It represents the first major step this legislative session to address a temporary drug possession law that sunsets this July. In 2021, the State Supreme Court’s Blake Decision struck down Washington’s felony drug possession statute as unconstitutional.

Legislators approved a temporary measure later that year to classify drug possession as a misdemeanor while working toward a more comprehensive solution. The proposal that was approved today by a vote of 28 to 21 includes a classification of possession offenses, steps to pretrial diversion, prosecution, and resources. Hawkins voted in favor of the proposal, which now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

State Sen. Brad Hawkins issued the following statement:

“Many of my legislative colleagues have characterized drug abuse as a ‘personal healthcare issue.’ I don’t necessarily disagree, but our state needs to maintain options in our criminal justice system to protect people from themselves and others. I would have preferred something much stronger, but this is a bipartisan compromise.”

“This is one of the most important issues of this session. The Senate’s approach isn’t a perfect solution, but I believe it strikes the right balance between having a helping hand of compassion and a heavier hand of punishment. One way or another, we need to get people the help they need to get healthy, but we also don’t want them endangering themselves or others.”

Senate Bill 5536 Summary

Audio Clips

“The state needs options…”

“Not a perfect solution…”