A new government entity opened in July for individuals who were convicted of simple drug possession between 1971 and 2021 and now have the opportunity to receive financial compensation through the Blake Refund Bureau.
The establishment of this bureau follows the Washington Supreme Court's landmark Blake case, which declared the state's previous felony drug possession law unconstitutional two years ago. The court found that the laws criminalizing basic drug possession lacked the requirement of demonstrating knowledge of possession or intent. This ruling paved the way for eligible convictions to be expunged from records.
In addition to expungement, individuals who have convictions related to the Blake case can now seek reimbursement for fines and court fees they previously paid. This can be done through a user-friendly online portal created by the Blake Refund Bureau.
The impact of State v. Blake is extensive, affecting more than 200,000 cases involving felony drug possession charges and an estimated 125,000 misdemeanor charges, particularly those related to marijuana possession, which may also qualify for reimbursement.
To fund this initiative, the state has allocated $47 million, along with an additional $51 million earmarked specifically for reimbursing legal financial obligations that were previously paid. Individuals seeking reimbursement can apply either by mail or through the online portal provided by the bureau.