Rep. Dan Griffey: people will die because of revisions to Blake bill

Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, says the highly revised version of the Blake fix bill that passed out of the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee Tuesday is a missed opportunity that will only lead to more people dying.

Senate Bill 5536 was overhauled in the committee with three full pages of changes to the bill that Griffey says weaken the law on drug possession in Washington state, provide little to no leverage for prosecutors to compel treatment and zero accountability to those walking the streets openly getting high.

“I can’t overstate my disappointment in the bill that came out of the Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee,” said Griffey. “If this bill makes it to the Governor in its current form and is signed into law, we are dooming those with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), the first responders called to save their lives and our future generations. Make no mistake, people will die if this becomes law.”

Griffey noted this version of the bill is also a missed opportunity to update Washington’s civil commitment law to create a path for those with SUD who refuse services into treatment.

Senate Bill 5536 initially made possession a gross misdemeanor which would have given law enforcement and prosecutors some of the carrot-and- stick approaches they sought.

“This version of the bill includes so many substantial changes, including making knowing possession of a controlled substance a misdemeanor which essentially removes the stick,” said Griffey.

Other changes in the revised bill include:

• Limiting when the prosecuting attorney may make a motion for termination from pretrial diversion to when it appears that the defendant is not meaningfully engaging in the recommended treatment or services; and

• Providing that successful completion of pretrial diversion includes substantial engagement, rather than compliance, with assessment, recommended treatment, or services.

• Provides that the prohibition on selling or permitting the sale of drug paraphernalia does not apply to distribution of certain supplies by outreach, shelter, and housing programs.

• Expanding the circumstances when pretrial diversion is available to include when a person is charged with knowing possession and use of a controlled substance, counterfeit substance, or legend drug in a public place.

• Providing that a court may not grant a motion for pretrial diversion without the prosecuting attorney’s consent.

• Encouraging prosecuting attorneys to divert cases meeting certain criteria.

• Eliminating the 21-day mandatory minimum sentences for persons convicted of certain drug offenses who refuse to obtain a SUD assessment and recommended treatment or services as a condition of probation.

WATCH: Rep. Griffey explain his no vote on SB 5536.

“It blows my mind that in the same week, the Justice Department announced a huge drug bust that resulted from a two-year investigation and included the seizure of 650,000 cloned fentanyl pills from a major pill press operation in my district. Then, this bill is what passes out of a committee I sit on,” said Griffey.

“I applaud the federal, state, and local law enforcement involved in that operation which led to indictments of over two dozen drug traffickers – many operating in our own backyard to pedal hundreds of thousands of deadly cloned fentanyl pills to those most vulnerable in our communities – those with SUD, and young children,” added Griffey. “The information from DOJ on the volume of drugs involved is astounding.”

The Justice Department announced Monday the bust carried out on March 22 included the seizure of:

  • 177 firearms
  • More than ten kilos of methamphetamine
  • 11 kilos of fentanyl pills
  • More than a kilo of fentanyl powder
  • Three kilos of heroin
  • More than $330,000

In the year leading up to March 22, during the investigation law enforcement also seized the following:

  • 830,000 fentanyl pills
  • 5.5 pounds of fentanyl powder
  • 223 pounds of methamphetamine
  • 3.5 pounds of heroin
  • 5 pounds of cocaine
  • $388,000 in cash
  • 48 firearms

Griffey pointed to the description from one of the law enforcement officials involved in the investigation who indicated the fentanyl seized in the operation contained enough lethal doses to kill everyone who lives in Tacoma and Seattle, with enough lethal doses left over to poison another half a million people.

“While I am proud to see that we are tough on crime when it comes to those profiting off the manufacturing and pushing of these illegal substances, if we do not attack the SUD/addiction crisis from all sides, nothing will improve in our communities,” said Griffey. “Attacking it from all sides means being able to compel those who can no longer make decisions for themselves because they are addicted to heroin, meth, or deadly cloned fentanyl – into treatment before we lose any more of them and investing in those programs with a sense of urgency that appears to be missing in Olympia.

“The one bright spot I can share is the bipartisan bill I am co-sponsoring with Democratic Rep. Mari Leavitt to outlaw possession of pill presses used to make these cloned pills that are killing the most vulnerable in our society, continues to move through the legislative process. I’m hoping it makes it to the Governor.

WATCH: Rep. Griffey’s floor speech on the Tyler Lee Yates bill targeting pill presses.

“In the meantime, I can’t say enough how important it is for all of us in Washington and beyond to be talking about the fentanyl crisis – and more importantly – talking about it with our children, because just one of these cloned pills is enough to kill,” added Griffey.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov