A public meeting to explore how Washington can navigate the intersection of substance use disorder and the criminal justice system in light of the 2021 Blake decision is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Central Library in Spokane.

Hosted by State Sen. Andy Billig of Spokane, the event will feature a panel of community leaders, including Superior Court Judge Harold Clarke, Francis Adewale, a public defender for the City of Spokane, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl, State Rep. Marcus Riccelli, State Rep. Mike Volz, and Dan Sigler, Regional Director for Pioneer Human Services. The panel discussion will be moderated by Fawn Schott, president and CEO of Volunteers of America of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

“A response to the Blake decision will be one of the most important issues we tackle in the 2023 Legislative session and need to receive input from experts and the public to make sure we get the right solution for our community as a whole and for individuals suffering from substance abuse disorder,” said Billig.

During the event, Billig will provide an overview of the Blake decision and current law, the panel of experts will provide their input and there will then be an opportunity for the public to ask questions. The event will also be streamed live on TVW.org.

In 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court found that the state’s drug possession law was unconstitutional. A few weeks after the decision, the Washington State Legislature passed SB 5476, a temporary response to the Blake decision to give the lawmakers time to agree on a permanent solution. The Legislature is expected to take up the issue when the 2023 session begins in January.