Auburn City Council revises local drug laws

The Auburn City Council approved changes to the city code regarding possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia during its meeting on Monday (June 21). The council passed ordinance 6825 to conform city code with recent state legislation.

On Feb. 25, 2021, Washington State Supreme Court ruled the state’s drug law was unconstitutional in court case State v. Blake. The Supreme Court came to this decision because under the existing law, people could be charged with possession even if they did not know they had drugs on them, according to council documents.

In response to the Supreme Court decision, the state Legislature passed ESB 5476, which was then signed into law by Gov. Inslee on May 13, 2021. The new law decriminalizes the use or delivery of certain drug paraphernalia. The law also reduces simple possession of drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor and requires the element of “knowing.”

The passing of ESB 5476 rendered Auburn’s city codes regarding possession of drugs and paraphernalia obsolete and inconsistent with the new state law. State law requires city codes to be in compliance with state law.

With the passing of ordinance 6285, the possession of drugs will be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor and possesion of certain paraphernalia will be decriminalized in the city of Auburn. Decriminalization does not mean possession of drug paraphernalia is legal. It just means people won’t be prosecuted for the offense.