Washington State was one of the first few states in the U.S to legalize the possession as well as recreational use of marijuana, along with Colorado. Widely known as the Evergreen State, it is by far one of the most weed-friendly states in the country. Ever since 1998, medical marijuana has been legal and it is being used in harmonious ways throughout the state for medical purposes.
As of November 3, 2012, the residents of Washington State voted to win a majority to legalize recreational marijuana as well. It was through Initiative 502 that the law was passed allowing the cultivation and the recreational use of the marijuana plant for individuals above the age of 21.
In general, society has a fairly relaxed attitude towards marijuana. This is especially evident in the Seattle area. In fact, Seattle hosts the famous annual Hempfest every August, during which even the police officers of Seattle will be seen distributing munchies and interestingly, also a copy of the Washington state marijuana laws.
Earlier in 1923, the Washington State Legislature had passed the House Bill 3 which categorized marijuana as a “narcotic drug.” For the same reason, possession of marijuana had a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. However, back in the day, marijuana was a rare sight in the Washington State area.
It was only after the surge in use of marijuana by the 1960s that the Washington State marijuana laws were loosened up. By 1971, marijuana was no longer considered a narcotic drug or as an “opiate.” The possession of marijuana which was considered as a crime by the state legislature earlier, reduced the charges to misdemeanor as well.
In spite of such relaxation, marijuana was still considered a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 as well as the Washington State Controlled Substance Act of 1971. It was still deemed to have “no currently accepted medical use” and also a “high potential for abuse.”
It was much later in 2012 that both medical and recreational use of marijuana became legal. However, the public use of marijuana including smoking remains to be illegal as is the case with most other states that have legalized marijuana.
As part of the free marijuana culture in the state and the recreational marijuana legalization programs, licensed recreational marijuana shops opened up all over the state selling different types of marijuana and products associated with marijuana. This includes paraphernalia or accessories for marijuana use including bongs, papers and lighters. Legal and eligible users are required to purchase their required products from only these stores.
As per the laws in the state, the marijuana products sold in these stores are required to have labels specifying the totally percentage of THC contained in the specific product. This ensures the legality of the products purchased. Edibles are not supposed to exceed the serving size of 10 milligrams as well.
In the interest of the safety of the consumers, while purchasing from any of these shops you are mandatorily required to possess a receipt as proof of purchase, in case of scrutiny or conflicts of any kind.
According to the Washington State marijuana laws, you are allowed to possess at a single time:
- Up to one ounce of marijuana flower in dried form
- Up to 7 grams of marijuana extracts meant for inhalation
- Up to 16 ounces of marijuana infused products in solid form or 72 ounces of infused products in liquid form in case of both edibles and topicals.
Violation and Penalties
As per the marijuana laws of the state, the following are the basic illegal activities in terms of marijuana in Washington State:
- Possession of marijuana in amounts above the legally defined limit
- Possession or marijuana by a person below the age of 21 years
- Public use of marijuana including the opening and consumption of marijuana-infused products
- Driving under the influence of marijuana
- Production or sale of marijuana without prior state license
The possession and use of marijuana in federal premises including national parks and national forests is always a criminal act.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is an offense chargeable under DUI. You will be charged of the offense if at least five ng of THC is found in your system. On arrest, you will be taken for drug testing.
Transporting marijuana across state lines is illegal and is an offense chargeable on both the sender and the receiver. Depending on the amount, penalty can involve fines and imprisonment for up to 5 years.
As mentioned before, cultivation of marijuana is illegal, whether it is for dispensaries or processors or private cultivators. Irrespective of the intention of cultivation, penalty will include heavy fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 5 years.
The only legal entities allowed to cultivate marijuana are licensed facilities who are appointed to grow and deliver to products to dispensaries once harvested.