(The Center Square) – In a reversal of their vote on Monday, the Spokane City Council has moved up their first reading of the Safe Open Spaces Act a full week to discuss possible legislative fixes to the Washington Legislature’s failure to come to an agreement on drug possession laws statewide.
Coming out of the meeting last week, as previously reported by The Center Square, the City Council voted to keep the Safe Open Spaces Act on the agenda for their May 8 meeting.
This delay of two weeks for the first reading of the ordinance, as opposed to the one week Councilmember Michael Cathcart advocated for, “gives [the Council] time to look at more changes, in the face of the Legislature failing to act,” said Councilmember Zack Zappone at the time.
According to a news release from City Council Communications Director Lisa Gardner, “the proposed emergency ordinance would go into effect immediately upon passage and would prohibit the following:”
- Knowing possession of a controlled substance, counterfeit substance, or non-prescribed legend drug.
- Knowing possession of less than 40 grams of cannabis by a person under 21.
- Knowing use of a controlled substance, counterfeit substance, or non-prescribed legend drug in a public place.
The release also notes that, in compliance with current state law, all violations would be punishable as a misdemeanor until July 1, 2023. However, starting on that same date and when the current state law expires, and moving forward, “all violations except possession of less than 40 grams of cannabis by a person under 21 would be punishable as a gross misdemeanor.”
The act, if adopted as a city ordinance, hopes to change that by focusing on rewriting portions of the Spokane Municipal Code, specifically 10.60.030, the section titled “Loitering for the Purpose of Engaging in Drug-related Activity.”
More information including meeting details can be found on the City Council website.