Washington has been one of the most progressive states in America when it comes to marijuana laws. The state first legalized the use of cannabis for medical in 1998, and recently on Nov. 3, 2012, Washington residents voted to make recreational cannabis use legal. Although the state has authorized the use of the drug for medicinal and recreational uses, there are some limitations put in place to control its use just like any other controlled substance like tobacco and alcohol. The restrictions on both uses of marijuana are largely similar although there are some slight differences between the two.
Restrictions on Recreational and Medicinal Use
Initiative 502 of Washington marijuana law prohibits the sale and possession of marijuana by people under the age of 21. This initiative also places restrictions on the amount an individual may purchase at a time. For instance, a recreational marijuana user can only buy 1 ounce of useable cannabis, 16 ounces of cannabis-infused solids, 72 ounces of cannabis products in liquid form, and 7 grams of concentrated cannabis.
Another restriction placed on marijuana use is where you can buy it. Washington only allows you to buy from state-licensed retail stores where you must have a valid identification document showing your age in order to be served. Similarly, there are regulations in place that determine where a marijuana retail store can be located and how it can operate. For example, you cannot have a store within 1000ft of a school, child care center or playground. Cannabis stores are also not allowed to advertise except for small sign outside their business premises.
In the past, it was illegal to share or give away your marijuana, but a recent change in state legislation has made it possible for you to share up to half an ounce of useable cannabis, 8 ounces of infused edible solid cannabis, thirty six ounces of cannabis products in liquid form, and 3 and half grams of concentrated marijuana, on the condition that you do not charge. This is because you are still not allowed to resell any cannabis without a license.
On the other hand, marijuana law requires medicinal users to be registered with Washington’s medical marijuana authorization database in order to receive the special privileges associated with medical use. All you have to do to register is visit your physician’s office, and have them input your information into the Washington State authorization database. Once registered, you are allowed to buy up to 3 ounces of usable cannabis, 48 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solid form, 216 ounces of cannabis-infused products in liquid form and 21 grams of cannabis concentrates.
As a registered medicinal user, you are also allowed to grow up to 6 plants for personal use at your home. The state also has provisions in place that allow doctors to increase the specified amount of cannabis a patient may grow if it is deemed that they require more than the permitted amount. In these special cases, patients can be allowed to grow as much as 15 plants, and possess only as much 16 ounces of usable cannabis. Another unique feature of medicinal marijuana use is the allowance of minors to partake as long as they have a prescription from their doctor.
Washington’s marijuana laws also control where medicinal marijuana can be used. Just like tobacco, it is illegal to smoke in public places such as restaurants, bars or even the store you bought it. It is also illegal to possess or smoke cannabis on federal land because state laws do not apply in these areas. This includes places such as national parks, forests, and national monuments. Generally speaking, you cannot consume medicinal marijuana anywhere in public view.
Recently, Washington banned the use of cannabis in private clubs or marijuana vape lounges. Since the passing of bill HB 2136, people are no longer allowed to gather and socially smoke in marijuana clubs. The new law prohibits the establishment or operation of a enterprise, for financial gain or otherwise, that maintains a commercial space for the sole purpose of providing a place where individuals may use marijuana publicly.
The law was passed to stop businesses that were using legal loop holes in marijuana laws to allow customers to use the drug in public view. These establishments would make customers pay for memberships effectively making an establishment a private club where members could legally smoke openly. Members could also purchase cannabis from these lounges by providing donations which could not be legally considered sales. Some clubs and lounges would even allow members to bring their own marijuana.
As with any other controlled drug, If you are caught consuming it illegally, state law enforcement officer may cite you or give you a ticket that would require you to pay a fine. Sadly, for weed enthusiasts and medicinal users, you do not just have to worry about the police since some hotels, and apartments buildings do not allow the use marijuana on their premises, and may fine you or charge you a cleaning fee if you’re found smoking. On the other hand, if you are caught with marijuana on federal land, the consequences could be much more serious as you could in the very least face citation, community service or even in extreme cases you may face jail time.
Despite medicinal and recreational marijuana use being legal in the state of Washington, there are certain guild lines every user is legally bound by. One such guild line is the prohibition of the use of marijuana in public view, and in this case, there are no exceptions even for medicinal users. This rule also applies to marijuana vape lounges or private clubs. Secondly, state legislation limits the amount of marijuana a person can buy at a given time. A recreational user, for instance, can only purchase 1 ounce of useable cannabis, 16 ounces of cannabis-infused solids, 72 ounces of cannabis products in liquid form, and 7 grams of cannabis concentrates while a medicinal user is entitled to three times as much. It is also important to note that only medicinal marijuana users are allowed to grow cannabis in their homes and even, so there are restrictions on the amount each person is allowed to have.