Washington state vacates house bill to waive marijuana misdemeanors

A bill that would have waived misdemeanor marijuana offenses for adults ages 21 and older died in the Washington State House of Representatives.

Washington State House Bill 1661, which passed to the rules committee for a second reading on March 1, never made it to the House floor. It would have allowed all adults convicted of a marijuana misdemeanor before recreational use was legalized in Washington to apply to the sentencing court for a vacation of their charges.

Although the bill won’t make it into law this year,  sponsor Representative Joe Fitzgibbons said it was well-received.

“It started a good conversation,” Fitzgibbons said. “We are going to have to take another shot at it next year.”

Representative Kevin Parker, the ranking minority member who opposed the bill, was unavailable for comment.

When marijuana became legal in Washington, many prosecutors waived misdemeanor charges people had incurred before legalization. Fitzgibbons said this was a courageous thing to do and the correct decision, knowing the voters of Washington did not believe possession of small amounts should be a crime.

Fitzgibbons estimated that a couple hundred people were affected by that decision…

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