Kent mayor proposes ordinance making drug possession a gross misdemeanor

KENT, Wash. — After a failure by state lawmakers to pass meaningful legislation on drug possession, some mayors are now taking matters into their own hands to deal with the drug crisis.

Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said she’s proposing a new ordinance for her city that would make drug possession a gross misdemeanor.

“I can’t just turn my back and say, you know, ‘Okay, the legislature didn’t act so I guess this is what’s going to happen,’” Ralph said. “My job is to take care of my community.”

Ralph said she plans to introduce the ordinance to the city council at its first meeting in May.

“Depending on where it goes from there, it will be another two, possibly two weeks, so the second meeting in May that they would vote on it and then it would have a 30 day window before it went into effect,” Ralph said.

If it passes, Ralph said a person charged with this crime could have the offense removed from their record if they go through treatment. She also said the defendant would not serve jail time unless they refuse to participate in a treatment program.

Time is of the essence, because although there are rumblings that a special session will be called, if lawmakers don’t act by July 1, all drugs in the state would be decriminalized.

“With legalization being a very real thing at this point, we don’t have any tools to help with that. We don’t have any tools to help keep our neighborhoods safe,” Ralph said.