The headline in The Crosscut on line says it all!

Court’s drug possession ruling upends WA’s criminal justice system

Upended indeed!

The Washington Supreme Court, in a case resulting in what is known as "the Blake Decision", struck down the law criminalizing simple drug possession in Washington State.   Attorneys, advocates, lawmakers, even the lawyer who argued before the nine justices on Shannon Blake’s behalf, were all stunned.

The Crosscut reports, "For advocates of drug policy reform and those in the world of criminal defense, the ruling “was a much-needed nail in the coffin on the war on drugs,” said Ali Hohman, director of legal services at the Washington Defender Association. Meanwhile, many prosecutors, law enforcement officials and lawmakers are nervous about its implications."

Possible legal implications include possible resentencing; parole violators may have records cleared; fines may need refunding and more. The policy director of the Washington State Association of Counties says it could amount to at least a $100 million dollar cost.

The question is - Did the High Court overreach in its ruling?  Washington was the only state in the country where prosecutors did not need to prove that someone in possession of drugs knew and intended to have drugs.  It is the result of a case out of Spokane where a female defendant named Shannon Blake, said drugs found on her were not hers but in fact belonged to the owner of the jeans she was wearing.  Under the old law it was up to Blake to prover her innocence rather than the prosecution prove her guilt.

The Cosscut story explains, "In a narrow 5-4 decision, the justices....ultimately concluded that lawmakers had been aware of the hole in the statute for many years, but decided not to change it. The whole law, therefore, was unconstitutional, meaning every case that involved drug possession must be reexamined."

Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic's office is feeling the weight and could soon be overwhelmed.

More From News Talk KIT