Washington Cannabis Law

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A Guide to Washington Cannabis Laws

In Washington, the recreational and medical marijuana industry is overseen by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. The sale and use of recreational weed mirror that of alcohol and cigarettes. So, when in doubt about the law ask yourself “could I do this with a bottle of liquor?” or “could I do this with a cigarette?”. If the answer is no, then you definitely can’t do it with a joint, pipe, vape pen, or edible.

Must be 21+ to purchase, consume or be in possession of marijuana

Possession is limited to one ounce of cannabis, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, or 72 ounces in liquid form

It is against the law to open/consume weed or marijuana-infused products in view of the general public. Meaning, you can’t smoke or otherwise consume marijuana in places like public parks, bars or restaurants, parking lots or concerts and other public events

Marijuana must be consumed on private property

Marijuana must be purchased from a state-licensed retail store

It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana if you have more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. Doing so may result in significant legal penalties

Homegrown marijuana for recreational use or sale remains illegal

You do not need to be a Washington state resident to legally purchase marijuana, however, all marijuana products must be consumed within the state of Washington and cannot be taken across state or international borders

Purchasing Legal Marijuana in Washington State

  • There are a lot of options when going to purchase recreational marijuana. There are a variety of stores, strains, types, brands, and ways to smoke or consume marijuana—it can be a little overwhelming if you’re walking into a marijuana dispensary for the very first time. However, there are three things you absolutely need to know when you go to purchase marijuana for the first time.
  • No minors allowed. If you aren’t 21 or over, you aren’t entering the building. They ask for ID, so make sure you have your photo ID out and ready. Remember, legal marijuana follows a lot of the same regulations that liquor sales do. Just like you need a driver’s license to buy a 6-pack, you need an ID to purchase a joint.
  • Bring cash. Marijuana retailers are not able to use electronic forms of payment due to the fact that marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. This limits the store’s banking options, and therefore you have to have some green to buy the green. Most stores have ATMs available on site, but like all ATMs outside of your bank, there’s a small fee to use them.
  • Ask for help. Not sure what to buy? Should you get an Indica or Sativa? Vape or pipe? Joint or edible? Where do you start? Just ask. All of the stores in Spokane know their product inside and out, and they want you to have the best experience possible. Budtenders, as they’re called, will ask you what kind of high you’re looking for and why you’re smoking. Are you smoking for fun? Are you trying to sleep? Those kinds of questions. From there they can recommend different products and get you set up with all the correct supplies. Always ask.
  • Shop at Quality Dispensaries. Like every other business, the quality of dispensaries can vary significantly, so we’ve made you a map of the 7 Best Dispensaries in Spokane with directions and links to order online before you arrive.

Where Can People Use Marijuana in Washington?

  • In general, people can use marijuana in private homes in Washington state. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as on school grounds, childcare centers, and public places. It is also illegal to use marijuana while operating a vehicle.

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

  • It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in Washington state. The state has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers who have any amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, in their system.
    • Police officers test for marijuana use in a few different ways. They may administer a field sobriety test, which involves tasks like walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. If the officer suspects that the driver is impaired, they may also administer a blood or urine test.
    • The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana in Washington state are the same as for alcohol. A first-time offender can face up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine

Can I consume Marijuana in public places such as parks or in my vehicle?

  • NO. Washington State law, or Revised Code of Washington, RCW 69.50.445 states:
    • It is unlawful to open a package containing marijuana, useable marijuana, or a marijuana-infused product, or consume marijuana, useable marijuana, or a marijuana- infused product, in view of the general public. A person who violates this section is guilty of a class 3 civil infraction under chapter 7.80 RCW.
    • The penalty for opening a package of or consuming marijuana, useable marijuana, or marijuana-infused product in view of general public is a civil fine of $103.

What does the new law mean for law enforcement?

  • I-502 changes very little for law enforcement, it merely de-criminalizes possession of limited amounts of marijuana. Consumption and opening a package of marijuana in public are civil infractions.
    • It is still illegal for persons under 21 years of age to possess or consume any amount of marijuana or marijuana-infused products.
    • Driving under the influence of marijuana or under the combined influence of marijuana and anything else, such as alcohol, is illegal and law enforcement agencies continue to strictly enforce DUI laws.

Retail vs. Medically-endorsed

  • Adults age 21 and older may purchase product from a licensed cannabis retail store.
  • A cannabis retail licensee may add a medical endorsement that allows them to:
    • Sell cannabis for medical use or provide cannabis at no charge to qualifying patients and their designated provider
    • Access the authorization database for the purpose of registering qualifying patients and designated providers

Medical Use – Healthcare Professionals

The law allows specific types of healthcare professionals (MD, DO, DOA, ARNP, NT, PA) to authorize cannabis for medical use.

Possession and Growing Home Cultivation

Current Washington law does not allow home grows for recreational use. Only licensed cannabis producers and qualifying patients who are authorized may grow under current regulations.

Growing for Medical Use

A patient with an authorization form is allowed to grow up to four plants within their domicile. Cardholders are allowed to grow up to six plants (maximum 15 plants per household), depending on the healthcare professional’s recommendation.

Cooperatives

Qualifying patients who are registered in the database may opt to join a cooperative to grow their own plants. This may be an option for patients who cannot grow within their domicile.

The basics:

  • You must be 21 or older to have or use retail marijuana
    • DO NOT sell or give retail marijuana to minors. It is illegal.
    • DO NOT drive while high. It is illegal.
    • DO NOT consume marijuana in public. It is illegal.
    • DO NOT take marijuana out of the state. It is illegal.
    • DO NOT purchase marijuana products from establishments that are not licensed to sell such products. It is Illegal.
    • DO NOT take marijuana products onto cruise ships or onto federal land. This includes, but is not limited to the Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park, including the state’s ski areas. Any navigable waterway is patrolled by the U.S. Coast Guard and therefore being in possession of marijuana would be illegal, as well.

A little more information:

  • Marijuana purchases must be made in Washington State approved retail stores. The location of these can be found on the WSLBC website.
  • The law states that it is illegal to open a package containing marijuana or marijuana product, or smoke marijuana in public. This includes but is not limited to parks and sidewalks, business and residential areas, and federal and public lands.
    • It is also illegal to smoke marijuana in other locations where smoking is illegal, including bars, restaurants, buildings open to the public, places of employment, and areas within 25 feet of doors and ventilation openings.
    • The majority of Seattle’s hotels are smoke-free. Seventy-five percent of Washington State’s hotels are non-smoking so it is recommend that you check with your hotel before smoking marijuana in a hotel room.
    • Washington State’s DUI laws apply to driving under the influence of marijuana. An adult driver with 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood will be charged with driving under the influence of drugs.

Washington Cannabis Advertising and Marketing Business Signs and Outdoor Advertising

  • Licensees are limited to two signs (maximum 1600 sq. inches) that are permanently affixed to a building or other structure on the licensed premises.
    • Other forms of signage/outdoor advertising are prohibited, such as sign spinners, sandwich boards, inflatables, persons in costume, etc.
    • Signs are limited to the following information:
      • Business or tradename,
      • Business location, and
      • Identifying the nature of the business.
    • Signs must contain text stating that marijuana products may be purchased or possessed only by persons 21 years of age or older.
    • Signs cannot contain depictions of plants or products (ex: leaf = plant, joint = product), or use movie or cartoon characters, or any other depiction that might be appealing to children.
    • Signs may contain:
      • Images – Will be further clarified in rule, but images cannot be plants, products, appealing to children, etc.
      • Logos – Logos may not contain plants, products, or be appealing to children, etc.
    • Billboards
    • Licensed retail outlets may use a billboard solely for the purpose of identifying the name of the business, the nature of the business, and providing the public with directional information to the licensed retail outlet.
      • Billboards are limited to the same restrictions as outdoor signs (listed above):
        • Billboards must contain text stating that marijuana products may be purchased or possessed only by persons 21 years of age or older.
  • Billboards cannot contain depictions of plants or products (ex: leaf = plant, joint = product), or use movie or cartoon characters, or any other depiction that might be appealing to children.
    • Billboards may contain:
      • Images – Will be further clarified in rule, but images cannot be plants, products, appealing to children, etc.
      • Logos – Logos may not contain plants, products, or be appealing to children, etc.
    • Billboards must contain all of the warnings required for advertising under WAC 314-55-155.

Other Advertising Restrictions

  • Transit advertising is prohibited on or in public or private vehicles and at bus stops, taxi stands, transportation waiting areas, train stations, airports, etc. This includes vinyl wrapped vehicles, logoed delivery vehicles/company cars.
    • All print advertising must contain text that marijuana products may be purchased or possessed only by persons 21 years of age or older.
    • Licensees are prohibited from engaging in advertising that specifically targets persons outside the state of Washington.
      • General. All marijuana advertising and labels of usable marijuana and marijuana-infused products sold in the state of Washington may not contain any statement, or illustration that:
        • Is false or misleading;
        • Promotes over consumption;
        • Represents the use of marijuana has curative or therapeutic effects;
        • Depicts a child or other person under legal age to consume marijuana, or includes:
          • Objects, such as toys, characters, or cartoon characters suggesting the presence of a child, or any other depiction designed in any manner to be especially appealing to children or other persons under legal age to consume marijuana; or
          • Is designed in any manner that would be especially appealing to children or other persons under twenty-one years of age.
  • No licensed marijuana producer, processor, or retailer shall place or maintain, or cause to be placed or maintained, an advertisement of marijuana, usable marijuana, or a marijuana-infused product in any form or through any medium whatsoever:
    1. Within one thousand feet of the perimeter of a school grounds, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, library, or a game arcade admission to which it is not restricted to persons aged twenty-one years or older;
    1. On or in a public transit vehicle or public transit shelter; or
    1. On or in a publicly owned or operated property.
  • Giveaways, coupons, and distribution of branded merchandise are banned.
  • All advertising must contain the following warnings:
    • “This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming.”;
    • “Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug.”;
  • “There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product.”; and
  • “For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of the reach of children.”

Washington Cannabis Tax Guide

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