If you’re in Washington State and considering the use of marijuana, knowing the laws regulating its use and sale is crucial. Although marijuana use for medical and recreational purposes is allowed in the state, there are still tight regulations to follow, and violators risk facing harsh penalties. With the help of Initiative 502, the state has a comprehensive regulatory approach that provides state-licensed producers, processors, and retailers. Only licensed stores are legally allowed to sell recreational or medical marijuana. Knowing these laws will help you stay within legal boundaries when using, possessing, and selling cannabis products.
1. Laws and Restrictions Around Public UseIn Washington State, it’s illegal to use marijuana in public areas like streets, sidewalks, parks, public hiking trails, ski resorts, bars, and restaurants. In addition, the law strictly prohibits the use of marijuana on college and university campuses. Smoking or vaping marijuana in any indoor location is subject to the Washington Smoking in Public Places Law restrictions. It prohibits smoking in public places or places of employment, but you can consume marijuana legally in a private hotel room if the establishment allows it. Property managers and housing providers can also impose cannabis use restrictions, even if you are of legal age or have medical cannabis authorization to use it for medical purposes. So, check these policies before consumption. You may use it on private property if the property owner allows it and you are over 21. However, individual property owners maintain the right to restrict its use according to their preference. As per federal law, authorities may ensure compliance in Washington State, specifically on federal property like national parks, federal buildings, and military bases. They may also enforce federal laws in navigable waters, the Canadian border, the coast, airports, and other designated regions.
2. Laws on Recreational Marijuana Home GrowingIf you’re living in Washington state, you can’t grow marijuana at home recreationally. The only people allowed are licensed producers and authorized patients. If you get caught growing it without authorization, you could face serious legal consequences like going to jail or paying fines. Some attempts have tried to make it legal for adults to grow cannabis at home, but they haven’t been successful. However, patients with authorization can grow up to four plants in their house. In addition, cardholders can grow up to six plants (but no more than 15 plants per household) depending on their healthcare professional’s recommendation. And patients in the state’s voluntary patient database can also join a cooperative to grow their plants if they can’t grow them at home.
3. Legal and Safety Risks of Driving Under the Influence of MarijuanaIf you are under the influence of marijuana, driving or operating a vehicle or boat is against the law. Like alcohol, there is a legal limit for how much of the active ingredient in marijuana—THC—you can have in your system while driving. For people 21 and older, that limit is five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. The police officers can charge you with a DUI if they test your blood and find that you have exceeded the legal limit of THC. If you’re under 21, having any THC in your system is illegal while driving. If you exhibit signs of impairment, authorities can charge you with a DUI even if you are under the legal limit. So, it’s best to wait at least 6 hours after using marijuana before driving to ensure you’re not impaired. Also, remember that if you eat marijuana instead of smoking it, it can stay in your system longer. It’s also illegal to have an open package of marijuana in your car while driving. If you’re traveling outside of Washington, you can’t take marijuana with you, even if you’re going to another state where it’s legal. If you’re unsure, don’t risk it—call a taxi or use a designated driver.
4. Purchase Only from Licensed StoresIf you are over 21 and want to buy marijuana, you must do so only from licensed stores authorized by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. These stores may legally sell products deemed generally safe and approved for consumption. If you have a medical condition and require cannabis, licensed stores with a medical endorsement can sell or provide it for free. Only specific healthcare professionals (MD, DO, DOA, ARNP, NT, PA) can authorize cannabis for medical use.
5. Understand the Legal LimitsYou can have some cannabis or cannabis products without getting in trouble. You can purchase up to:
- One ounce of marijuana flowers
- 16 ounces of marijuana-infused edibles
- 72 ounces of liquid form
- 7 grams of concentrates