Currently, both medical and recreational marijuana are legal in Washington. As the second state to legalize recreational marijuana, Washington is a hot-spot for cannabis tourism. Recreational (adult-use) cannabis was legalized under Initiative 502 in 2012, and medical marijuana was legalized under Initiative 692 in 1998.
Purchasing Marijuana in Washington
Anyone over the age of twenty-on (21) with a valid ID from any US State (or international passport) can legally purchase marijuana in Washington State, although some local jurisdictions have banned dispensaries within their city limits.
Purchases include both cannabis and cannabis-infused products along with paraphernalia such as pipes, lighters, and papers, making most recreational marijuana dispensaries a one-stop smoke shop. When it is time to light up, however, make sure you're not anywhere near a school, park or public transportation, otherwise you could be subject to a fine.
Purchasing & Possession Limits
Customers can purchase up to one (1) ounce of cannabis flower at a time.The limit for concentrates is seven (7) grams; for edibles it is sixteen (16) ounces; and for liquids it is seventy-two (72) ounces. This is also the limit you can have on your person at any time. If you have any more than this, it's possible the law will see this as "intent to distribute" and impose jail time or a fine.
Medical marijuana patients, however, have higher possession limits. All cardholders in the state may possess up to three (3) ounces of usable marijuana, forty-eight (48) ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, two hundred sixteen (216) ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form or, twenty-one (21) grams of marijuana concentrate.
Patients who cultivate their own cannabis are also allowed to possess higher amounts, but only if the cannabis is from their own crop. For the standard six (6) plants all medical cardholders are allowed to grow, a patient may possess up to eight (8) ounces of personally cultivated usable marijuana. Those with extended plant counts — up to fifteen (15) — may possess up to sixteen (16) oz of usable marijuana. Where to Buy
Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana
Washington state's medical marijuana program is separate and distinct from adult-use regulations. The program allows for different pricing and possession for patients with debilitating or terminal illnesses. The qualifying conditions for the state's program are:
- Cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, or spasticity disorders.
- Intractable pain, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean pain unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications.
- Glaucoma, either acute or chronic, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean increased intraocular pressure unrelieved by standard treatments and medications.
- Crohn's disease with debilitating symptoms unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
- Hepatitis C with debilitating nausea or intractable pain unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
- Diseases, including anorexia, which result in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, or spasticity, when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
- Chronic renal failure requiring hemodialysis.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Traumatic brain injury.
When it comes to smoking marijuana or consuming cannabis products, it's against the law to light up in any public place. This means that you can't smoke a joint on the sidewalk, in a state or federal park, or in any other public place, including private property if it's close enough to a public space where people can smell the smoke. The best places for consumers to light up are in private homes, medical marijuana collective social clubs, or at marijuana friendly hotels. Remember, discretion is key!
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
To be considered driving under the influence of marijuana, you'll need to have at least five nanograms per millilitre of THC in your bloodstream. As a driver in Washington, you automatically give your consent for drug testing if you're arrested. However, if you refuse the test, you can still face fines and jail time. Bottom line? Avoid smoking and driving to stay on the right side of the law.
Traveling With or Transporting Marijuana
Transporting marijuana from state to state is illegal, whether crossing state lines in a car or sending a package of marijuana products in the mail. Consumers need to be aware that if a package containing marijuana is mailed, both the send and the receiver can face prosecution from both states. The consequences of breaking these laws could result in fines and up to five years in prison, depending on the amount.
Cultivation of Marijuana
Neither dispensaries, processors, nor private growers are allowed to grow their own marijuana without looking at a hefty fine of up to $10,000 and five years behind bars, regardless of whether or not there is intent to sell.
In fact, the only businesses that are strictly regulated to cultivate marijuana in Washington are licensed grow facilities, who deliver the product to dispensaries after harvest.
Medical marijuana patients, however, can grow their own cannabis. All card-holding patients may cultivate up to six (6) plants, and those that get special dispensation from their doctor may grow up to fifteen (15) plants. Those that cultivate their own crop will have increased possession limits as well (eight (8) oz and sixteen (16) oz respectively). Learn to Grow
Consumption by Minors
There's no way around it. To purchase or smoke marijuana in Washington, you need to be at least twenty-one (21) years of age or older. If a minor is caught consuming marijuana, they could incur fines, suspension of a driver's license, and even drug rehab. In fact, minors are not even allowed inside a marijuana dispensary in Washington. Having said this, minors with medical issues can receive a medical marijuana prescription from their doctor.
Washington state does not recognize medical marijuana registry cards from other states.
Cannabis delivery of any kind is not allowed in Washington state.
*Legal Disclaimer: This article is not meant to serve as legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Laws and regulations are always changing. Therefore, if you have any legal questions regarding Washington's medical marijuana laws you must consult with a licensed Washington attorney.