LAKEWOOD, Wash. – At the Lakewood City Council meeting on April 5, 2021, the Lakewood City Council unanimously approved Ordinance No. 750 amending Lakewood Municipal Code 9.06 related to Controlled Substances. In summary, the approved ordinance makes it a gross misdemeanor for any person to knowingly possess a controlled substance.
The ordinance is intended to address a ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court on February 25, 2021 that rendered the state’s current drug possession law unconstitutional. The ruling left the state without a drug possession law. Arrests for drug possession were not being made without a law in effect upon which to base such arrests.
In the February case, State v. Blake, the core issue was strict liability. The court found that unknowing possession of controlled substances does not warrant felony conviction for “entirely innocent and passive conduct”.
“This ordinance was passed as a hopefully-interim measure to prevent criminal and active circulation of harmful controlled substances in Lakewood. We await further legislative developments.”– Don Anderson, Mayor
Despite the passage of the ordinance, further changes to the prosecution of knowing possession of controlled substances may follow. It is expected that legislative action will be taken or that voter initiatives will be presented in the near future to address this issue at the state level.