April 19, 2023
Lakewood Mayor Jason Whalen signed a letter this week joining mayors of 27 other cities across the state urging legislators in the state House to make changes to proposed legislation around controlled substances.
In a statement, Whalen said:
“This legislative session city leaders from across the state – including myself and my colleagues in Lakewood – have urged our state legislators in Olympia to strengthen laws that improve public safety. That includes passing a bill that punishes the possession of controlled substances. Lakewood already took action to protect our community by passing an ordinance that makes open drug use within the city a gross misdemeanor. Now, we ask our legislators to similarly step up for our communities.
The Senate’s version of SB 5536 does just that. It makes possession a gross misdemeanor. A version of this bill in the House, however, does the opposite and potentially eliminates the city’s ordinance. If passed, it will actually make it harder for local cities to address drug possession, which means we could see increased public drug use on our streets, making our communities less safe. The House version of this bill will also make it harder for us to help people into treatment.
I agree with my elected colleagues: Unless the House version of this bill is fixed, it would be better for the Legislature to do nothing – and let cities, like Lakewood, pass legislation that fits our local needs. That’s why I signed onto a letter alongside mayors of 27 other cities urging our legislators to hear our concerns and take appropriate action to help us keep our communities safe. We must all work together to restore accountability and institute consequences for illegal behavior.”