Legal Marijuana in Washington: An Overview
Although marijuana use has been decriminalized in the state of Washington since 2012, that doesn’t mean you can just load a bill into any vending machine and walk away with a pouch of weed. There are still laws and regulations to be aware of before you try to purchase marijuana. Use this handy guide to legally buy marijuana in Washington.
Buying and Using Marijuana in Washington
Any marijuana seller in the state must be licensed and regulated, so check into your source’s credentials before you buy for your own protection. When you do smoke pot, you need to do it in private, with your own place of residence serving as your safest bet. You cannot be in public view, but the odor of your product must also not be detected by the public.
Most public places prohibit marijuana use. Any place that enforces a smoking ban also prohibits marijuana. Other locations that explicitly do not allow use of marijuana include restaurants, clubs, lounges, most hotels, bars, concert venues, sporting arenas and any federal lands. Smoking while driving or while being a passenger in a vehicle is also prohibited.
You must be 21 years of age in order to purchase or possess marijuana in Washington. You are limited to having one ounce of useable pot, or dried flowers, on your person at any time, but you can have up to 16 ounces of solid infused product or 72 ounces of liquid infused product. The law also allows you to privately own marijuana paraphernalia.
To purchase your marijuana, be sure to have your government issued ID card handy. You will also need to bring cash. Some shops do accept debit cards but they are not allowed to use credit cards.
Sending marijuana over the state line is prohibited due to various state laws regarding the drug, even if it is legal in the state in question, as is driving under the influence of marijuana or selling the drug without a license. Following these laws to the letter is the easiest way to avoid any legal ramifications associated with marijuana use.
Some marijuana laws vary by county across the state, so it is always a good idea to check into each county’s laws before venturing into a supplier’s shop. Due to local laws, specific strains may not be available in all areas. Some cities have also outlawed dispensaries, so be sure to look up shop locations to find the nearest dispensary near you.
Some shops may still be in the process of opening, so be sure to call before making a trip. You can enter your zip code at Leafly to find your nearest dispensary as well. Curious about whether or not a pot shop is coming to your neighborhood? Visit the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board website to find out.
The punishments for violating the law can vary, but most include a ticket and a fine to pay. Marijuana use on federal lands can result in the loss of your driver’s license, community service and possibly even a probation sentence.
Washington carries some of the cheapest prices across the country at $1500 per pound.
As of March 2016, prices continue to fall at $9.32 per gram, down from $25 per gram in September 2014.
Lots of employers still ban the use of marijuana in the workplace. Check with your company’s policy before chancing a drug test.
Home growing marijuana is still illegal.
Some rare strains of pot, such as Red Stem Afghani, can be found in Washington.
It is illegal to have more pot on you than is stipulated by law, to purchase or use pot if you are under age 21, or to violate any other laws. It is also a crime to use marijuana on federal lands, such as National Parks and forests.
Studies indicate that women may be more sensitive to the painkilling properties of marijuana than men.
Pot is the most commonly used recreational drug in the country.
It is up to tribal lands to enforce their own laws regarding recreational use of the drug. Dispensaries are not legally allowed in Skagit County for this reason.
Employers may continue to drug test at their discretion. · The legal limit for marijuana use while driving is 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.
Marijuana sales earned the state over $64 million in tax revenue during its first year as a legal product.
It is illegal to engage in marijuana use at a dispensary location.
Washington laws do not negate federal laws, which mean that individuals may still be prosecuted by the federal government.
The oldest written reference to pot is believed to be in 2727 B.C., when Chinese Emperor Shen Nung supposedly used it for medical reasons.
Marijuana fibers have been used in everything from rope to checkbook covers to clothing.
While large amounts of marijuana can be harmful to animals, some pet owners have used it to treat medical conditions in their pets.
One of the best times to learn about marijuana in Washington is during Hempfest, an annual summer event in Seattle. In 2016, Hempfest will enjoy its 25th anniversary when the festival begins on August 19. Tourists from all over the country will travel to Seattle in order to enjoy music, food and all things hemp.
Hempfest is made up of the volunteers who have led the “world’s largest annual cannabis law reform event.”Over 100 crews work throughout the year to make the festival happen. In addition to recreational use of marijuana, Hempfest promotes industrial hemp and medical use of marijuana as well. In addition to being a festival, it is also a large political demonstration against criminalizing marijuana use. The bands that play in the festival even donate their time in support of the cause. Although the event is free, activities, artisan crafts and foods cost various fees.
Hempfest is not the only event open to marijuana aficionados. There are actual travel companies that specialize in setting up excursions for pot-minded travelers. Trips often include discounts at local pot shops as well as tours of pot gardens, classes about marijuana and more information. Even if you aren’t a smoker, these tours are jam-packed with scientific and economic information regarding the region, making them interesting for any tourists or even curious citizens of Washington State who are looking for fun staycation options. Some of the most well-known weed tourism companies include Kush Tourism and Rent a Vape.
If you need to obtain marijuana for medical purposes in Washington, the Washington State Department of Health’s website will be a helpful resource. You will have to obtain a medical marijuana authorization form from your healthcare provider in order to start the process. Any marijuana obtained for health purposes must be obtained from a medically endorsed marijuana store. The medical marijuana consultant from the store will be required to fulfill your order. Be sure to ask for this individual when you pick up your product. He or she will make you a recognition card that will help you with further purchases. You can also be added to the authorization database to help you obtain your marijuana more easily.
If you want to enter the marijuana business in Washington, you will have to obtain a license for producing, processing or selling pot, whichever the case may be. A license application costs $266 and each license has a renewal fee of $1,062. While you can be both producer and processor, you cannot simultaneously be the product retailer. Many other restrictions apply, particularly regarding the location of dispensaries, which cannot be within 1000 feet of a school, recreation center, library or other place that is frequented by youth.
For more information about entering the business, visit the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board website.
The Future of Pot
As more communities take on the hemp issue, voting to legalize marijuana as Washington did with Initiative 502, the stigma associated with the drug is lessening as well. Banks are becoming more willing to work with marijuana sellers than ever before. While only 51 banks were willing to work with sellers in 2014, today over 300 banks are open to working with marijuana vendors. Colorado, Oregon and Alaska have legalized pot and many other states are following suit.
Today 21 states allow use of marijuana for medical purposes and more than 50% of the population supports legalizing marijuana. Legal use of the drug has also not only allowed for more research regarding its effects on the population, but also stricter regulation of the drug, which creates a safer environment for its use overall.
In the near future, marijuana tourism may no longer be necessary, once states begin to legalize the drug locally. Until then, Washington remains one of the most progressive states to embrace marijuana, embracing it and all of its benefits to both people and the economy well before other states were willing to consider the idea. A year after the legalization of marijuana in Washington, studies showed that violent crime rates were down, incidences of youth marijuana use and traffic accidents did not spike as some people predicted, there was a huge drop in the number of marijuana arrests in the state and the state coffers were fuller than ever due to the taxes generated from marijuana sales and the decreased costs in prosecuting marijuana users. Looking at these facts and figures, it is easy to see why many other states want to join Washington in legalizing marijuana.
As times change and more locations opt to legalize marijuana, many areas may attempt to focus on making the growth and processing of pot a little greener in terms of environmental practices. Right now, it takes as much energy to drive across the country in a 44mpg vehicle as it does to produce 2.2 pounds of marijuana indoors. Grow lights are to blame for much of the energy consumption. Low-energy LED lighting installed in greenhouses may be the key to managing