Category Archives: Drug Offenses

Cannabis Advocates: Biden is Missing an Opportunity Legalize Marijuana

Why Joe Biden's Marijuana Move Is a Midterm 'No Brainer'

The Hill reports that President Biden is missing an opportunity to sway young voters with his reluctance to take bigger steps to legalize marijuana at the federal level.

While campaigning for the White House in 2020, Biden said, “No one should be in jail because of marijuana. As President, I will decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions.”

Cannabis advocates say the Biden administration has opened several avenues for marijuana reform. These include issuing federal pardons for simple possession and starting the process of potentially rescheduling marijuana’s status under the Controlled Substances Act from Schedule I to Schedule III.

But those measures have failed to excite advocates. They now say Biden is falling short of his 2020 campaign promises and failing to address the disparate overcriminalization of the drug that has unduly impacted minority communities. Progressive lawmakers in the Senate are urging the administration to go further and completely deschedule the drug. Legalization it would effectively decriminalize it at the federal level, as opposed to rescheduling it.

“Marijuana’s placement in the Controlled Substances Act] has had a devastating impact on our communities and is increasingly out of step with state law and public opinion,” 12 Democratic lawmakers wrote to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) last month.


Public opinion is strongly in favor of marijuana legalization. A Gallup poll from November found a record 70 percent of Americans believed marijuana should be legal.

More recent polling from Lake Research Partners backs up public support for federal marijuana reform, with 58 percent supporting a rescheduling to Schedule III, compared to 19 percent who opposed the move.

“It’s a really strong issue with some constituencies that Democrats really need to increase their support and enthusiasm, specifically young people, African Americans, Democratic base voters, people of color, young men of color,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster and strategist who serves as president of Lake Research Partners.

Hayley Matz Meadvin, Executive Vice President of Communications at Precision Strategies and a former Biden administration staffer, noted the “supermajority of support” behind marijuana legalization could help Biden lure in voters across the political spectrum.

“This is a popular issue that motivates voters, and it doesn’t just motivate — it clearly just doesn’t motivate exclusively Democrats. And that will be critical this fall.” ~Hayley Matz Meadvin, Executive Vice President of Communications at Precision Strategies


Biden and Trump, his likely 2024 rival, are polling neck and neck both nationally and in key swing states. The election could come down to a few thousand voters in those states, potentially giving niche issues such marijuana added importance.

Advocates say his actions so far fall short of that promise. And they said he may struggle to clearly communicate any progress on marijuana reform, especially as some actions are left unfinished; the DEA has yet to issue its decision on rescheduling marijuana, and the federal pardons issued last year could not apply to state-level convictions, though Biden has encouraged governors to follow his lead.

While marijuana reform may not be among the issues expected to dominate the 2024 elections, strategists note that smaller issues frequently break through the noise during election cycles.  Perhaps substantial marijuana reform action from Biden would signal to voters he is a “modern president” and could make a difference in states including Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime. As of now, possessing marijuana is still a federal crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

WA State Patrol Kicks Off “Home For the Holidays” DUI Enforcement Campaign

Washington State Police: Home for the Holidays Traffic Safety Campaign | Local |

Accoding to a press release, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) will work together to enforce DUI pullovers and encourage drivers to make good choices.

The “Home for the Holidays” traffic safety campaign continues now through New Years Eve. Historically, the WSP observes an increase in all collision types during this time frame, as well as an increase in impaired drivers on our roadways.

“While we can’t prevent all collisions, buckling up and slowing down, particularly in wet conditions, dramatically improve the chances that drivers and their passengers will survive a crash and avoid serious injury.” ~Shelly Baldwin, WTSC Director.

Encouraging drivers to make good choices behind the wheel is especially important considering the rise in fatality collisions across Washington state over the past several years. According to preliminary WTSC data, there have been nearly as many fatal collisions between through September 2023 (578) as compared to the same timeframe in 2022 (582). Last year was a 32-year high for fatality collisions across Washington state.

Numbers from the WTSC show 776 lives were lost across the state due to traffic related collisions in the months of October, November, and December from 2018 to 2022. Of those tragedies, 40 percent involved impaired drivers, 30 percent involved excessive speed, 16 percent involved distracted drivers, and 29 percent of those killed were pedestrians or pedal cyclists.

“Fatality collisions are preventable tragedies, and we must all do our part in order to help save lives,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “Buckling up, slowing down, and driving sober can help make sure we all make it home to our loved ones for the holidays.”

Drivers are asked to checklist check road conditions before heading out.

  • Buckle up and ensure all occupants are also properly seat belted before driving;
  • Follow posted speed limits and slow down as necessary in adverse weather and around vulnerable road users, including walkers and cyclists;
  • Increase following distance, especially in adverse weather or low light conditions;
  • Always choose to drive sober;
  • Avoid distractions, such as the use of a hand-held cell phone or watching videos while driving.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with DUI, Reckless Driving or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Alcohol vs. Cannabis vs. Tobacco: What’s the Worst?

Weed Seems to Protect Your Liver From the Effects of Hard Drinking

Intriguing article in The Hill by Journalist Alix Martichoux discusses medical advice on what substances harm health the worst: alcohol, tobacco or marijuana?

Although the doctors disagreed on what substance was most harmful, all three doctors agreed that marijuana was the least harmful.

Dr. Anand Akhil, a behavioral health doctor with Cleveland Clinic, said that when it comes to generalizing for the average person, alcohol was the worst, followed by tobacco.

“Alcohol use is linked to over 200 health conditions and diseases, damaging every organ system in the body . . . Depression, anxiety, dementia, cancers, heart and liver disease, and bone disease can all result from alcohol consumption. Similarly, tobacco use is largely connected to serious cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular diseases.” ~Dr. Anand Akhil

Dr. Kevin Most, chief medical officer at Northwestern Central DuPage Hospital, agreed in a recent interview with WGN Radio.

“I would certainly rank alcohol No. 1.  . . . I’m going to say that alcohol in moderation is OK, but too much alcohol is going to have impact on many illnesses.” ~Dr. Kevin Most

The harms of consuming tobacco, Dr. Most said, could be largely reversed when people stop smoking earlier in life. “If people understand the the risk of lung cancer, based on how many years you’ve been smoking and how much you’ve been smoking, if you stop that smoking at an early age … your lungs can reinvigorate and get back almost to normal.”

But Glickman disagreed, and ranked tobacco as worst due to the fact it has no proven health benefits.

“Tobacco I would argue is the worse substance of the three, given it has no conceivable benefit even in light amounts, and considerable risks. Tobacco has been linked to increases in heart disease, cancers, and premature mortality, among others . . . Alcohol on the other hand, could have benefits at light or moderate amounts, but then risks with large amounts.” ~Dr. Glickman

He said red wine in particular contains antioxidants, and pointed to studies showing up to one glass per day can reduce inflammation in blood vessels.

But all three doctors agreed on which ranked least harmful to the average person’s health.

“I would put marijuana third, mainly because we know that there’s a lot of medicinal uses for marijuana and used in the right format and in the controlled environment is fine,” Most said. He said chemotherapy patients often credit cannabis as the only thing keeping their appetite up, allowing them to get nutrition they need.

Glickman said evaluating cannabis’ healthfulness and harmfulness is more complicated than the other two.

“The available evidence suggests that cannabis could be of benefit when medically supervised as part of a treatment plan for certain conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, trauma, insomnia, and muscular disorders, among others,” he said. But Glickman went on to say cannabis use could make certain mental health issues worse, as well as impair memory and concentration.

He said the data suggests there is an extra risk to young adults whose brains aren’t fully developed.

Plus, Akhil noted, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have guidelines on how much alcohol adults can consume in moderation (up to two drinks a day for men, one drink for women), there are no such guidelines for safe cannabis or tobacco use.

“I think negative health consequences could be possible for all of the three substances, even in moderate amounts, depending on the person and situation,” Glickman said. “There is no foolproof vice.”

All three experts emphasized each person is unique, and you should always talk to your doctor about your specific situation.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with DUI or any other crime involving drugs and alcohol. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Blake Refund Bureau Launches to Assist with Refunds of Court Fines

Washington State Courts - News, Reports, Court Information

It will soon be easier for Washingtonians with past drug convictions to get reimbursed for fees and fines they paid under the state’s now-overturned drug law.

Washington state’s official online reimbursement center for court-ordered fines or costs paid in connection with drug possession convictions, found to be unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in State v. Blake, launched July 29, 2023.

Now accessible at, the Blake Refund Bureau was developed by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) in collaboration with courts serving all 39 Washington state counties and 112 separate municipalities. Individuals convicted of simple drug possession, cannabis possession and paraphernalia convictions between 1971 and 2021 can now receive qualifying financial reimbursements via the Bureau’s self-guided, centralized portal.

“As partners with courts across the state, this bureau is a critical tool to ensure that individuals receive the refunds due to them in a timely and efficient manner.” ~AOC Chief Financial and Management Officer Chris Stanley

In 2021, the Washington Supreme Court found the legal statutes that criminalized drug possession were unconstitutional and void because they did not require intent, or knowledge of possession — a due process violation of both state and federal constitutions. As a result of this decision, known as State v Blake , any Blake-related convictions qualify to be vacated and removed from one’s criminal record, and any legal financial obligations (LFOs) paid as a result qualify for financial reimbursement.

To administer these reimbursements statewide, the Washington State Legislature determined a centralized bureau would be instrumental for public accessibility, and help to offset costs to courts, prosecutors and defense attorneys.

With $47 million earmarked towards possession charge vacations, sentencing adjustments, and an additional $51 million set aside for paid LFO refunds, AOC was appointed the task of developing the Blake Refund Bureau in collaboration with local courts and county clerks, public defenders, prosecutors, impacted individuals, advocacy groups and other stakeholders.

This work is unprecedented, with no related instances of a state issuing hundreds of thousands of vacations and refunds at one time. The State v Blake ruling impacts an estimated 200,000+ felony drug possession charges dating back to the 1970s and an estimated additional 125,000 misdemeanor marijuana charges eligible for vacation.

Individuals can apply online via the Blake Refund Bureau portal, or apply via mail. Applicants must have their name, case number, and proof of ID with picture prior to applying. Additionally, optional fields are available to upload further identifying information including proof of name change, divorce decree, international address, and power of attorney if filing for someone else.

Refund progress tracking, a help forum and how-to video will be available to help guide users through the online application process. To help individuals understand their rights, vacate their records and learn about qualifying LFO and 3rd party reimbursements, the Blake Refund Bureau offers resources and a free Blake hotline courtesy of Washington State Office of Public Defense.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense ort any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Cathinone: The Newest Drug to Hit Streets & Nightclubs

What you need to know about synthetic drugs | CNN

The Drug Enforcement Administration is issuing a warning about Cathinone, the latest drug that has made its way to Northeast Florida streets. Cathinone is a natural stimulant that comes from a plant. However, this Cathinone is synthetic, meaning it’s a concoction of dangerous chemicals.


Synthetic cathinones have stimulant properties related to cathinone, the psychoactive substance found in the khat shrub. It produces effects similar to methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA, to name a few. They have been sold as “bath salts.” Often, they’re sold over the Internet, at convenience stores, tobacco/smoke shops, and gas stations and packaged in shiny plastic bags and bright logos.

More recently, the cathinone market has been pushed underground. It’s being sold in “traditional drug packaging” like little baggies, and can be found in tablet, capsule, or powder form. Users can experience symptoms of nausea, vomiting, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, chest pains, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and violent outbursts. These drugs have also resulted in overdose deaths.

The drug was first found in Sweden in 2014, then seven years later, it showed in a United States toxicology report. Very little is known about the drug.


As of 12 months ago, the dangerous drug started showing up in the Jacksonville metropolitan area.

Jacksonville DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Dubet said law enforcement officers are finding that the younger generation possesses the new drug in area nightclubs and bars.

“It’s very cheap, about $150 to $200 per ounce. It’s an alternative that people are turning to just because of the price and the effects they are getting from it.” ~DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Dubet

Because N,N-Dimethylpentylone Hydrochloride creates similar effects as other drugs, law enforcement said it also has the potential to deliver the same negative side effects which include high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, hyperthermia, hallucinations, dehydration, loss of consciousness and death.

“State, local, and federal government is aware of it and we’re all trying to go after the people that are responsible for distributing it on our streets,” Dubet said.

Dubet also pointed out another problem with the drug. He said since it’s being sold as cocaine, an unsuspecting buyer who thinks they’re getting cocaine may resort to gun violence when they realize they were sold something else.

“The customer can feel they’re being ripped off which could lead to some of the retaliatory violence.” ~DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Dubet

Seventy pounds of the drug was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Washington Dulles International Airport. Agents said two boxes of the drug were sent from China and were listed on the manifest as beauty products. It’s unclear if the people in China who shipped the drugs to DC are the same people responsible for supplying the same drugs to Northeast Florida.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Washington’s 2022 Crime Report: Homicides Are Up, Police Staffing is Down

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs‘ (WASPC) reported that Homicides and other violent crimes increased in Washington state at a dramatic pace last year.

“The rate of murders, violent, and property crimes rose across the state, while the number of officers available to respond and serve our communities decreased again in 2022. There were 394 murders in 2022, an increase of 16.6% over 2021. This is the highest number of murders recorded since WASPC began collecting this data in 1980. Homicides have increased by 96% since 2019. Crimes against persons, property, and society all increased in 2022, and violent crimes showed an increase of 8.9%.” ~WASPC 2022 Crime Report

The report analyzed 2022’s crime data across the state. It was compiled with data from 231 state, county, municipal, and tribal agencies within Washington.


Other significant trends the report disclosed were motor vehicle theft rising by 34%. Also, nearly 46% of all crimes against persons were defined as domestic violence. Moreover, 544 hate crimes were reported last year. Finally, the state logged 719 fewer arrests for drug or narcotic violations.

This data follows a pattern the state saw last year with increases in violent crime. According to WASPC’s report, violent crime increased by 12.3% from 2020 to 2021. There were 325 murders recorded in 2021, an increase of 5.9% over 2020. The year 2021 had the highest number of murders recorded before 2022 broke its record.


“The total number of commissioned officers statewide was 10,666, down from 10,736 in 2021, while the total population of the state increased by 93,262,” the report continued. “Washington again is ranked 51st out of the 50 states and District of Columbia for the number of officers per thousand residents. Reported cases of officers assaulted were 2,375 in 2022, an increase of 20.7%.”

The report said the reduced law enforcement staffing means less ability to provide justice for victims, fewer people to de-escalate, less behavioral health assistance and many agencies “treading water.”

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Politicians Want Crackdowns on Drug Dealers

Politicians want cop crackdowns on drug dealers. Experts say tough tactics  cost lives | WAMU

Excellent article by NPR journalist Brian Mann discusses a growing coalition of U.S. politicians wanting tougher police tactics used against gangs now selling fentanyl, methamphetamines and xylazine. The pro-active arrests of drug dealers have been a cornerstone of America’s War on Drugs since the 1970s.

However, new research published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests drug busts and police crackdowns on dealers may actually be making the overdose crisis worse.


The study, which underwent a rigorous peer-review process because of its controversial findings, is based on data gathered in Indianapolis, Indiana that found patterns of overdose and death that followed drug seizures in the city.

People with addiction wind up buying fentanyl, methamphetamines and other high-risk street drugs from strangers selling drugs of different potency — often with different, more dangerous ingredients.

When people experiencing severe addiction are forced to go without drugs — even for a short period of time — it can alter their level of tolerance. Begin using again and they may be more vulnerable to overdose and death.


Fear of fentanyl is adding to political pressure to get even tougher on drug dealers. The supply of street drugs is now cheaper, more readily available, and more toxic than ever before. Roughly 110,000 people in the U.S. died of fatal overdoses last year alone, a devastating new record.

Senator Cortez Masto describes her Xylazine Measure – which has broad bipartisan support – as a necessary legal tool to toughen penalties and “crack down on traffickers.”

“I can just tell you what I’m seeing and hearing from my law enforcement,” Sen. Cortz Masto told NPR. Xylazine is “becoming an emergent threat, one we need to get a handle on now and not wait to lose more lives.” ~Senator Cortez Masto


Beau Kilmer, who heads the Rand Drug Policy Research Center, agrees police should play a major role cleaning up neighborhoods where drug-dealing is rampant.

“If you can just reduce the number of dealers on the street and allow residents get their neighborhood back that could be a real benefit.” ~Beau Kilmer

Some experts on police drug enforcement tactics believe law enforcement must do much more to protect public health before drug seizures occur. That would mean more advanced planning and coordination with harm reduction groups and others focused on helping people with addiction.

“We don’t have a choice is the way I look at it,” said Brittney Garrett, the former cop who works now with a pro-reform group called the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative.

“By not having law enforcement, public health, behavioral health, harm reduction all working together, we’re going to end up with more people being harmed.”


Senate Bill 5536 was just passed on July 1, 2023. The bill criminalizes using drugs in public. It also sets the penalty for possession of controlled substances as a gross misdemeanor with a maximum confinement time of six months for the first two convictions. Any fine for any conviction is capped at a maximum of $1,000.

The bill creates a system for a pre-trial diversion program to get people into treatment. The bill requires mandatory early conviction vacation if the person in question can complete treatment or has “substantially complied” with a recovery program or similar services for six months.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

New “Blake Fix” Drug Possession Law Takes Effect July 1, 2023

Gov. Jay Inslee signs drug possession law 'fix' | The Reflector

SB 5536, the so-called “Blake Fix,” passed the Washington State Legislature (Legislature) and was signed by Governor Jay Inslee. Its provisions involve the use and possession of drugs. Passage of the bill was welcome news for many Washington cities and counties that were rushing to pass their own ordinances.

The bill makes it a gross misdemeanor to:

  1. Knowingly possess counterfeit substances and controlled substances (hereafter “prohibited substances”); or
  2. Knowingly use prohibited substances in a public place.

This bill covers possession and use of counterfeit or controlled substances, or “hard” drugs such as fentanyl and other opioids, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. Also prohibited is the knowing possession of non-prescribed legend drugs, as well as their knowing use in a public place, both classified as misdemeanors. The bill also creates a pre-trial diversion program and almost completely preempts local regulation of drug paraphernalia.


In February 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court in State v. Blake. The Blake case was immediately mired in controversy.  It declared unconstitutional Washington’s strict liability drug possession law, which criminalized the unintentional, unknowing possession of a controlled substance.

In July 2021 – and in response to the fallout from Blake– the Legislature adopted temporary  legislation making it a misdemeanor to knowingly possess prohibited substances. This temporary legislation required that law enforcement refer the individual to assessment and treatment for their first two arrests for simple possession. Upon the third arrest, the individual could be prosecuted. However, this proved nearly impossible for law enforcement to implement, given that there was no state-wide tracking system for referrals.

Fast forward to the 2022-2023 regular legislative session, which ended without passage of a new drug possession and use law. This challenge placed cities and counties in the unfortunate situation of adopting their own patchwork of possession and use laws. However, in a special session on May 16, 2023, the Legislature adopted permanent drug-related legislation in SB 5536.


Both knowing possession of prohibited substances and knowing use of a prohibited substance in a public place are gross misdemeanors. Gross misdemeanors typically have a maximum imprisonment time of not more than 364 days, plus a fine of not more than $5,000.

Knowing possession and knowing use of a legend drug without a prescription remains a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors have a maximum imprisonment time of not more than 90 days, plus a fine of not more than $1,000. An individual cannot be charged with both possession and use relating to the same course of conduct.

Notably, referral or diversion is no longer required. Nevertheless, law enforcement and prosecutors are encouraged to refer or divert such cases for assessment, treatment, or related services. Rather, both possession and use of controlled and counterfeit substances are punishable by imprisonment of up to 180 days or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or both. If the defendant has two or more prior convictions of possession or use, then imprisonment can be increased to up to 364 days (or the $1,000 fine, or both).


The bill regulates drug paraphernalia as follows:

  • Selling or permitting drug paraphernalia to be sold is a class 1 civil infraction.
  • Giving or permitting drug paraphernalia to be given — previously a class 1 civil infraction — is no longer prohibited.
  • Using drug paraphernalia continues to be a misdemeanor. See RCW 69.50.412(1).
  • Littering or dumping drug paraphernalia continues to be either a civil infraction, a misdemeanor, or a gross misdemeanor, depending on the quantity. See RCW 70A.200.060.

Notably, the definition of drug paraphernalia does not include cannabis-related paraphernalia or drug testing and analyzing equipment. Also, prohibitions on drug paraphernalia do not apply to distribution or use of public health supplies through pharmacies, public health programs, or other authorized community programs.


Many Washington cities and counties have passed ordinances regulating drug possession and use in the absence of permanent state legislation. Those ordinances no longer have any real effect because the state fully occupies and preempts the entire field of setting penalties for violations of the controlled substances act, and local ordinances must be consistent with chapter 69.50 RCW — see RCW 69.50.608. As described in the previous blog section, the state also preempts the field of drug paraphernalia regulation.

However, despite this state preemption, cities must adopt or incorporate state statutes into their municipal code in order to prosecute misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor cases in city municipal court — See City of Auburn v. Gauntt, 174 Wn.2d 321, 274 P.3d 1033 (2012), which held that cities with a municipal court created under chapter 3.50 RCW must prosecute misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors based on city code provisions or RCWs that have been incorporated into the code by reference.


The bill creates a pretrial diversion program for individuals charged with simple possession, where the defendant agrees to meaningfully engage in a treatment program in exchange for the state dismissing the charge. The judge must advise the defendant of a program’s availability at arraignment and the prosecuting attorney must consent to the defendant’s participation. Section 9 of the bill outlines all the details, and the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) article, Blake fix bill passes Legislature during one-day special session, provides additional information about the practicality of pre-trial diversion programs.


Opioid use disorder treatment facilities (with the exception of safe injection sites) are now considered essential public facilities (EPFs). As such, cities and counties can only regulate opioid use disorder treatment facilities in the same manner in which they regulate other EPFs and health care settings. Maximum capacity cannot be imposed on these facilities. See Section 12 of the bill.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

WA Courts Reimburse Defendants For Fines & Costs Associated With Drug Convictions

Washington Spends $100 Million To Vacate 350,000 Marijuana/Drug Convictions  And Reimburse People Criminalized By Unconstitutional Law - Marijuana Moment

In a press release, WA Courts will reimburse defendants for fines or costs paid in connection with drug possession convictions that were found unconstitutional by the Washington Supreme Court.

If you made payments towards legal financial obligations (LFOs) owed in cases vacated as a result of the State v. Blake decision, you may be eligible for a refund. Refunds of LFOs previously paid are ordered when the only conviction(s) in the case are for drug possession. If there are other charges in the case, refunds will be processed on any paid fines or fees specifically related to the possession of controlled substance charge.

Development of the Blake Refund Bureau, which will operate through an online portal, is led by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) in collaboration with local courts and county clerks, public defenders, prosecutors, impacted individuals, advocacy groups and other stakeholders.

“The intent is to have a process that is easy to navigate and will provide for a timely response for individuals to receive their refunds . . . The public will be able to search for their cases by their name or case number.” ~AOC Blake Implementation Manager Sharon Swanson.

In the landmark State vs Blake decision issued on February 25, 2021, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the state’s drug possession law was unconstitutional and void because it did not require individuals to have knowledge of the drug possession. As a result, those convicted of drug possession on or before February 25, 2021 became eligible to have their convictions vacated and removed from their criminal record, and their paid court-ordered fines and costs — called legal financial obligations (LFOs) — reimbursed.

It is estimated that over 200,000 felony drug possession charges dating back to the 1970s may be eligible to be vacated in superior courts. An estimated additional 150,000 misdemeanor marijuana charges may also be eligible for vacation. To help offset costs to courts, prosecutors, and defense attorneys, the Washington State legislature approved $47 million for the efforts of vacating hundreds of thousands of possession charges, and adjusting sentences for thousands of incarcerated or supervised persons.

An additional $50 million dollars was set aside to reimburse individuals who paid LFOs as a result of the Blake related convictions. AOC was appointed to lead the work, including establishing a Blake Refund Bureau to administer LFO refunds to impacted individuals.

The Blake Refund Bureau portal will be accessible to the public via a link on The refund bureau will provide individuals who have had their Blake convictions vacated a self-navigable database to determine if they have refunds related to their convictions. Refund requests will be submitted through an online application. Once the application has been received and an amount of refund is confirmed by the court, a refund will be issued.

While the portal exclusively operates in the processing of LFO refunds, the site will include resources to guide individuals in clearing their convictions and seeking legal help.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Drivers Can’t Consent to Police Searching a Passenger’s Belongings

Should Cops Be Allowed to Rip Up Your Stuff While Looking for Drugs? | The  New Republic

In State v. Garner, No. 56861-6-II (2023), the WA Court of Appeals held that a driver’s consent to search their car does not extend to searching the contents of closed containers inside the car that do not belong to the driver.


A police officer arrested Mr. Garner on an outstanding warrant after stopping a car and encountering Garner as a passenger. Garner tried to flee on foot but the officer apprehended him. After placing Garner under arrest, the officer spoke with the car’s driver, who said Garner left three backpacks behind in her car. The officer asked the driver for permission to search the car and she granted it.

The officer then searched Garner’s backpacks without requesting his permission and found controlled substances. Later testing established that the controlled substances found in the backpacks were 86.9 grams of methamphetamine and 3.8 grams of heroin.

The State charged Garner with two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Before trial, Garner moved to suppress evidence obtained from the warrantless search of his backpacks. The trial court denied Garner’s suppression motion. After a bench trial, the trial court found Garner guilty of both counts of possession with intent to deliver.

On appeal, Mr. Garner argued that the trial court improperly denied his suppression motion.


In short, the WA Court of Appeals held that the trial court should have granted Garner’s suppression motion. It reasoned that a person’s bag or closed container heightened protection under the federal and state constitutions. It emphasized that the Washington Supreme Court has also recognized an expectation of privacy in purses, briefcases, and other traditional containers of personal belongings.

Here, the defendant passenger had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the backpacks he left inside the car when he fled from the police during a traffic stop.  He did not abandon the backpacks or relinquish his privacy interest in them because he was in the vehicle with permission, and took steps to conceal the backpacks from the officer before fleeing.

The Court of Appeals also reasoned that that the driver’s consent to search her car did not extend to Garner’s backpacks.

“Garner had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his backpacks. And while Washington case law does not squarely address whether a passenger has a reasonable expectation of privacy in items left in another’s car, our cases point to the conclusion that Garner did not relinquish his expectation of privacy when he left his backpacks in the driver’s car. Unlike the defendant in Samalia, Garner did not leave his backpacks in a stolen car. He left them in a car he had occupied with the driver’s permission.”

“And unlike the defendant in Reynolds, he did not remove the backpacks from the car and leave them on the road. Rather, Garner, who lacked housing, left his belongings with a person he knew. Moreover, Garner never disclaimed ownership of the backpacks. He took the time to put two of the backpacks on the vehicle’s rear floorboard and tried stowing the third backpack under the driver’s seat. The circumstances lend themselves to the conclusion that he intended to safeguard the backpacks until he could recover them.” ~WA Court of Appeals.

With that, the Court of Appeals reversed Garner’s convictions because the trial court should have granted his motion to suppress.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. This is especially true if Search and Seizure issues are involved. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.