Are all drugs really legal in Washington State? For now, the answer is yes
Bruce Barcott February 26, 2021
No more unjust arrests for simply possessing a controlled substance: The state Supreme Court has struck down Washington's felony drug possession law. (AdobeStock)
In a surprising decision handed down on Thursday, Feb. 25, the Washington State Supreme Court struck down the state’s fundamental criminal drug possession law.
Police are no longer arresting people for simple drug possession in Washington State. Will that last? Hard to say.
The law in question, RCW 69.50.4013, made mere possession of a controlled substance a felony punishable by up to five years in prison—even without proof the person knowingly possessed the drug.
In yesterday’s ruling, a majority of justices concluded that the law “exceeds the State’s police power” and is unconstitutional.
Reaction to the ruling was swift. Within hours, the Seattle Police Department announced that its officers would no longer arrest people solely under the simple possession law. The Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs sent out an advisory stating that “effective immediately, Washington law enforcement officers are no longer authorized to conduct a criminal investigation, effect an arrest, seek a search warrant, or take any other law enforcement action for simple possession of controlled substances.”
Are all drugs now legal in Washington State? The answer appears to be yes, at least right now.