Washington Supreme Court rules felony drug possession law unconstitutional

Wow. This is big news.

Washington State Supreme Court finds state’s felony drug possession law unconstitutional

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s felony drug possession law is unconstitutional.

Immediately following the ruling, Seattle Police announced they would no longer be arresting people for simple drug possession, and they won’t confiscate drugs under the statute. Other agencies quickly followed suit. […]

In its ruling released Thursday, the high court said the law serves to “criminalize innocent and passive possession” because it is a “strict liability” law, meaning prosecutors don’t need to prove intent.

The ruling strikes down RCW 69.50.4013 Section 1. Without that section, there is essentially no state law on simple drug possession. […]

“Attaching the harsh penalties of felony conviction, lengthy imprisonment, stigma, and the many collateral consequences that accompany every felony drug conviction to entirely innocent and passive conduct exceeds the legislature’s powers,” the ruling reads.

Now, this doesn’t stop the legislature from drafting a new possession law that meets the court’s standards, but for now, simple possession cannot be prosecuted under the felony law.

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6 Responses to Washington Supreme Court rules felony drug possession law unconstitutional

  1. darkcycle says:

    Plus, right now there is legislation pending to eliminate criminal penalties for drug use altogether, much like Oregon’ has done. Meaning the chance of them rewriting the laws to reinstate prohibition is slim. They don’t have the votes if they did, nor do they have stomach to try. That dog won’t hunt, as they say. For now, at least, prohibition is done in Washington State.
    Now we get to find a way to make this work and to make an example for the rest of the country. Go Washington!!

  2. Freeman says:

    Any news on what happens with cases that have already been prosecuted? Release from prison? Expungement of criminal records? Re-instatement of 2nd Amendment rights?

    • WalStMonky says:

      United States v. Chambers, 291 U.S. 217 (1934)
      United States v. Chambers
      No. 659

      Argued January 16, 17, 1934
      Decided February 5, 1934

      291 U.S. 217

      1. The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment of the Constitution, which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, was consummated on December 5, 1933. P. 291 U. S. 222.

      2. Upon the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, the Eighteenth Amendment became inoperative, and neither the Congress nor the courts could give it continued validity. P. 291 U. S. 222.

      3. The National Prohibition Act, to the extent that its provisions rested upon the grant of authority to Congress by the Eighteenth Amendment, immediately fell with the withdrawal by the people of the essential constitutional support. P. 291 U. S. 222.

      4. Prosecutions for violations of the National Prohibition Act in a state, pending when the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed, cannot be continued. P. 291 U. S. 222.

      Page 291 U. S. 218

      5. In case a statute is repealed or rendered inoperative, no further proceedings can be had to enforce it in pending prosecutions unless competent authority has kept it alive for that purpose. P. 291 U. S. 223.

      6. Section 13 of the Revised Statutes, providing that penalties and liabilities incurred under a statute are not to be extinguished by its repeal unless the repealing act shall so expressly provide, etc., is inapplicable where the statute imposing the penalties is rendered inoperative by the power of the people exercised through a constitutional amendment. P. 291 U. S. 223.

      7. Instances in which Congress has provided for the transfer of cases pending in territorial courts as an incident to the exercise of its power to admit new states into the Union present no analogy to a case in which the power of Congress over the subject matter has been withdrawn by a constitutional amendment. P. 291 U. S. 225.

      8. Prosecution for crimes is but an application or enforcement of the law, and if the prosecution is to continue, the law must continue to vivify it. P. 291 U. S. 226.

      9. It is a continuing and vital principle that the people are free to withdraw authority which they have conferred, and, when withdrawn, neither Congress nor the courts can assume the right to continue to exercise it. P. 291 U. S. 226.

      5 F. Supp. 153 affirmed.

      Appeal under the Criminal Appeals Act from a judgment quashing an indictment for conspiracy to violate the National Prohibition Act, and for possessing and transporting intoxicating liquor in violation of that Act.

    • darkcycle says:

      They are dropping all simple possession charges. That won’t make a huge difference, though, they were as a rule not charging simple possession in most areas. Besides, Prosecutors will always tack on anything they think will possibly stick in order to coerce a guilty plea to lesser charges.

  3. Servetus says:

    Buprenorphine used by patients with opioid use disorder is safe to use with benzodiazepines while still reducing ODs:

    March 3, 2021 — …New research involving the medical data of more than 23,000 patients being treated for opioid use disorder supports the use of buprenorphine in patients also taking benzodiazepines. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that the drug can protect opioid users from overdosing, even when such patients also take benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Xanax and Ativan. […]

    “Buprenorphine has had very good results as a treatment for opioid use disorder, partly because patients can take the drug at home, which is different from other drugs commonly used to treat the disorder such as methadone, which requires visits to clinics,” said first author Kevin Xu, MD, a resident physician in the Department of Psychiatry. “It’s well known that buprenorphine saves lives in patients with opioid use disorder, but because the drug has central nervous system depressing effects, there have been big questions about safety when patients also take benzodiazepines, which also depress the central nervous system. Our findings, however, indicate that buprenorphine makes overdose less likely, even in people also taking benzodiazepines.”

    The research team dug into the topic partly because many treatment centers do not accept patients who are addicted to opioids and also take prescription benzodiazepines.

    “Up to a third of people who suffer opioid overdoses also have benzodiazepines in their systems,” Xu said. “Many people get turned away from buprenorphine treatment or, even worse, their doctors abruptly taper them off benzodiazepines, which can be very destabilizing. Our goal was to learn more about whether there are dangers associated with taking buprenorphine while also taking benzodiazepines.”

    Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, press release: Opioid overdose reduced in patients taking buprenorphine: Study indicates the drug is effective in opioid users who also take benzodiazepines for anxiety, other conditions

    Xu K, Borodovsky J, Presnall N, Mintz C, Hartz S, Bierut LJ, Grucza RA. ‘The association between benzodiazepine and Z drug prescriptions and drug-related poisonings among patients receiving buprenorphine maintenance: a case-crossover analysis.’ The American Journal of Psychiatry, published online March 3, 2021.

  4. Servetus says:

    UNLV Neuroscientists discuss their latest research in psychedelic neuroscience as it relates to treatment of major depression:

    Perception, emotion, and mood are powerfully modulated by serotonin receptor (5-HTR) agonists including hallucinogens. The 5-HT2AR subtype has been shown to be central to hallucinogen action, yet the precise mechanisms mediating the response to 5-HT2AR activation remain unclear. Hallucinogens induce the head twitch response (HTR) in rodents, which is the most commonly used behavioral readout of hallucinogen pharmacology. While the HTR provides a key behavioral signature, less is known about the meso level changes that are induced by 5-HT2AR activation. In response to administration of the potent and highly selective 5-HT2AR agonist 25I-NBOH in mice, we observe a disorganization of behavior which includes frequent episodes of behavioral arrest that consistently precede the HTR by a precise interval. By combining behavioral analysis with electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings we describe a characteristic pattern composed of two distinctive EEG waveforms, Phase 1 and Phase 2, that map onto behavioral arrest and the HTR respectively, with the same temporal separation. Phase 1, which underlies behavioral arrest, is a 3.5–4.5 Hz waveform, while Phase 2 is slower at 2.5–3.2 Hz. Nicotine pretreatment, considered an integral component of ritualistic hallucinogen practices, attenuates 25I-NBOH induced HTR and Phase 2 waveforms, yet increases behavioral arrest and Phase 1 waveforms. Our results suggest that in addition to the HTR, behavioral arrest and characteristic meso level slow waveforms are key hallmarks of the response to 5-HT2AR activation. Increased understanding of the response to serotonergic hallucinogens may provide mechanistic insights into perception and hallucinations, as well as regulation of mood.

    UNLV Press Release: https://www.unlv.edu/news/release/psychedelic-science-holds-promise-mainstream-medicine

    Publication: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-81552-6

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