Washington marijuana laws
Is marijuana legal in Washington?
Current legality status
Cannabis is legal under state law for adults 21+.
Like the other West Coast states, marijuana is legal for both recreational and medical use in Washington state.
Despite a long-established recreational and medical system, many aspects of cannabis in Washington state remain contentious. Cultivation for personal use is still a felony offense for non-medical patients, and public consumption will result in a $100 fine.
Washington also does not allow for home delivery of cannabis products from retail locations.
As of September 2020, bill HB 1945 has been introduced to the House, which would allow for “Special license endorsements for marijuana retail lounges, direct sales, and sampling from some marijuana producers, and adding marijuana to certain permits.”
In March 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed HB 2870, a bill that would establish a social equity program in Washington overseen by a Social Equity in Marijuana Task Force.
Washington recreational marijuana laws
Fourteen years after Washington legalized medical marijuana in 1998, voters approved Initiative 502, the Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Initiative, in 2012.
The initiative effectively legalized possession, production, and consumption of cannabis for adults 21 and older, as well as outlined the structure of the imminent recreational market. Sales began in 2014 by licensed retail stores to adults 21 years or older. There are still gaps in legislation, such as certain testing regulations and delivery services.
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board regulates the recreational cannabis industry. As of July 1, 2016, the recreational cannabis and medical marijuana systems were folded into the same body of legislation.
Adults can possess up to one oz of flower, 16 oz of edibles, and seven grams of cannabis concentrates. Medical patients are entitled to up to three times this amount.
While possession is legal, the sale or distribution of any amount of marijuana not within the legal framework is a C felony, with up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000. An additional mandatory fine of $1,000 applies to first offenses and a $2,000 fine to second or subsequent offenses.
Washington medical marijuana laws
A medical defense for possession or use of cannabis has been upheld by the Washington Court of Appeals as early as 1979. After years of dispensaries operating illegally, voters passed Initiative 692 to legalize medical marijuana for qualifying medical patients in 1998. The main body of legislation governing the state’s medical marijuana program is the Revised Code of Washington Chapter 69.51A: Medical Cannabis.
In 2015, SB 5052 established the Cannabis Patient Protection Act to unite legislation for medical marijuana and recreational cannabis so that patients would be able to access products to the same standards of cultivation and testing as recreational users.
Medical patients, like adult consumers, can obtain cannabis and cannabis products like edibles and concentrates from licensed dispensaries. Patients are entitled to higher purchasing limits than recreational consumers, and can purchase up to three oz of flower, 48 oz of edibles, and 21 grams of cannabis concentrates.
Medical patients are also legally protected to cultivate up to 15 plants for personal use, while cultivation is still prohibited for non-medical consumers.
Washington qualifying conditions for medical marijuana
Washington allows medical patients with qualifying conditions, as recommended by an approved healthcare professional, to obtain, possess, cultivate, and use medical marijuana.
It should be noted that mental health conditions do not qualify patients, but the following physical conditions do:
- Chronic renal failure requiring hemodialysis
- Crohn’s disease
- Epilepsy or other seizure disorder, or spasticity disorders
- Hepatitis C
- Intractable pain, defined as “pain unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications”
- Multiple sclerosis
- Diseases, including anorexia, which result in: nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, or spasticity
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic brain injury
How to get a medical marijuana card in Washington
Medical patients must apply to the program under the Washington State Department of Health.
Potential patients should first consult with their healthcare practitioner to determine if their condition qualifies them. If so, they will receive a medical marijuana authorization form from their practitioner.
With the form and a valid, state-issued ID, potential patients should then contact a retail store with a medical endorsement and a certified medical marijuana consultant on site to schedule an appointment.
If approved, the consultant will register the patient into the medical marijuana database, and patients will pay an average of $1-$10 for their medical marijuana card.
Medical marijuana cards grant patients higher purchasing limits, exempt them from sales tax, protect them from arrests, and allow them to legally cultivate for personal use.
More information can be found on the Washington medical marijuana program site.
Does Washington accept out-of-state medical cards?
While Washington does allow non-residents 21 and up to purchase recreational marijuana, medical patients from other states cannot bring their medicine across state lines, and cannot use their out-of-state cards to purchase above the recreational limit of one oz of flower, 16 oz of edibles, and seven grams of concentrate.
When does my Washington medical card expire?
Like many other states, medical patients must renew registration every year, with cards valid for one year from the issue date.
To renew, patients must renew their authorization from a healthcare practitioner and schedule a new appointment with a consultant.
Washington marijuana growing laws
While it is legal to possess and obtain cannabis in small amounts for Washington adults, home cultivation is still prohibited. Only qualifying medical patients can grow up to 15 plants in their private residence.
Without a medical card, cultivation in any amount is a class C felony, with up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000, with additional fines for subsequent offenses.
Washington public consumption laws
It is prohibited to smoke cannabis in public view, so only consumption in a private residence with the consent of the property owner is allowed.
Washington has no license or permit process for onsite consumption at retail stores.
Washington cannabis DUI laws
While it is legal to consume cannabis in Washington, it isn’t legal to drive under its influence. Cannabis is considered an intoxicating substance that would impair an individual’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.
While the DUI limit for blood alcohol content is 0.08%, it is also “illegal to drive with 5 ng/ml of THC or more in your blood if you are 21 or older.” Concentration is determined by a blood test, which Washington drivers all give implied consent for when they obtain a license. Refusal of a test can result in license suspension of one year.
An amount of THC present in the blood of a minor is illegal.
- First offense: 1-364 days in jail, (24 hours of which may not be suspended unless the offender’s physical or mental well-being is at risk), minimum $350 up to $5,000 in fines, 90-day driver’s license revocation, and the court may order 15 days of electronic home monitoring or a 90-day period of 24/7 sobriety program monitoring. You may also be required to have an IID installed on the vehicle.
- Second offense (within seven years): 30–364 days in jail, 60 days of electronic home monitoring, or an additional four days in jail, or six months in a 24/7 sobriety program, $500–$5,000 fine, two years license revocation, vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture, may be required to install an ignition interlock device on vehicle.
- Penalties escalate with subsequent offenses. See Rev. Code Wash. 46.61.5055 for more information.
Washington cannabis testing regulations
There are some gaping holes in Washington’s testing regulations, including no provisions for pesticides. Currently, the state requires testing of the following compounds for adult-use products:
- Cannabinoid potency, i.e. THC and CBD levels
- Microbial contamination from mold, fungus, or bacteria
- Mycotoxins produced by microorganisms
- Moisture (can increase the risk of microorganism contamination)
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have interfered with moving legislation forward to require pesticide testing for cannabis flower and products.
Common questions about marijuana legalization in Washington
When did Washington legalize?
Washington legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational cannabis in 2012. Recreational sales began mid-2014.
Are dabs legal in Washington?
Yes, it is legal to purchase and possess up to seven grams of dabbable cannabis concentrates for adults 21+.
How many recreational dispensaries are in Washington?
Currently, there are 334 allotted dispensaries in Washington state and over 500 with pending applications.
Where can I consume?
Only consumption in a private residence is allowed. Public consumption warrants a $100 fine.
Can I bring marijuana into Canada or bring Canadian marijuana into Washington since it is legal in both countries?
Absolutely not. Despite recreational legality in both countries, it is illegal to bring cannabis across the border at the state and international level.
Good news! Marijuana is legal for both recreational and medical use in Washington. Learn about the current weed laws on the books, including possession limits, dispensaries, and growing regulations.
LEARN | LAWS & REGULATIONS
Is Weed Legal in Washington?
Yes. Under current Washington state marijuana laws , weed is both medically and recreationally legal for patients and adults ages 21 and older to possess and use.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Washington with Initiative 692 (I-692), or the Medical Use of Marijuana Act of 1998, which passed with nearly 60% of the vote. The initiative permitted patients with certain debilitating conditions, terminal illnesses, or intractable pain, to use medical marijuana. I-692 also granted legal protections to qualifying patients and their caregivers for the possession and consumption of medical marijuana.
Initiative 502 (I-502), the Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Initiative, was passed by voters on the statewide 2012 ballot with 55% of the vote. Under I-502 laws and regulations, the state legalized marijuana use and possession for adults 21 and older, and established a regulatory structure for the state’s cannabis industry, creating a framework for the production and sale of adult-use marijuana.
Before I-502, cannabis distribution, possession, or use for adult-use purposes was illegal in Washington. The initiative went into effect Dec. 6, 2012, exactly 30 days after its passage and well in advance of the Dec. 1, 2013 requirement.
Shortly after the state legalized recreational cannabis in 2015, the Washington Legislature passed SB 5052 , the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (CPPA), establishing official state regulations for local marijuana businesses , which entails the production, possession, sale, and use of medical marijuana.
I-502 legalized adult-use marijuana production, distribution, possession, and consumption throughout Washington. All licensing and regulation of marijuana falls under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) .
Where is it Safe to Purchase?
Under current Washington state marijuana laws , adult-use cannabis may be legally purchased only from a state-licensed retailer. Patients and caregivers may also purchase medical cannabis from any state-licensed retailer. Tribal ID cards are valid as identification if they meet the rules laid out by the WSLCB. According to the board’s website , tribal enrollment cards may only be used if the following requirements are met:
- The Tribe has notified the Board that it intends to use the ID card to purchase marijuana
- The enrollment card has a photo, a signature, and a date of birth
- The enrollment card has security features comparable to state Driver’s License.
There is a Washington state marijuana tax for retail consumers. Under state law, all retail marijuana sales are subject to a 37% excise tax, in addition to regular state and local sales tax. Medical patients are not subject to the excise tax or retail sales tax.
Where is it Safe to Consume?
It remains illegal to consume marijuana or marijuana-infused products in public view. Cannabis cannot be consumed wherever tobacco smoking is prohibited.
Under Washington state recreational marijuana laws , adults 21 and older can purchase in a single day up to :
- 1 ounce, or 28.35 grams, of usable marijuana
- 16 ounces, or 454 grams, of cannabis-infused edibles in solid form;
- 72 fluid ounces , or 2.13 liters, of cannabis in liquid form, and;
- 7 grams, or a quarter-ounce (0.25 oz), of cannabis concentrates.
Medical marijuana patients may purchase and possess up to:
- 3 ounces of marijuana , or 85 grams;
- 48 ounces, or 1.36 kilograms of marijuana-infused products in solid form;
- 1.69 gallons, or 6.4 liters of marijuana-infused products in liquid form, or;
- 21 grams of marijuana concentrate.
Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal and consumption in a vehicle is neither allowed for drivers nor for passengers. Consumers can carry cannabis in their vehicles, but it must be in a sealed container or in the trunk. However, it is illegal to transport any open package or container of cannabis or marijuana-infused products.
It remains illegal to transport cannabis from across state lines. Washington stipulates that more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood is the limit for driving, and a blood test can be performed at a police station or a medical facility. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. The state advises waiting at least 5 hours after inhalation to drive, and longer after consuming edibles.
Cultivation of adult-use cannabis on private property for personal use remains illegal . However, medical patients can cultivate six plants and have 8 ounces of usable marijuana in the home. A health-care practitioner may authorize patients to have up to 15 plants or up to 16 ounces, or 454 grams, of usable marijuana produced from their plants.
View the cannabis laws & regulations for Washington.