Washington Marijuana Laws
Currently, both medical and recreational marijuana is legal in Washington. As the second state to legalize recreational marijuana, Washington is a hot-spot for cannabis tourism.
Purchasing Marijuana in Washington
Anyone over the age of 21 with a valid ID from any US State (or international passport) can legally purchase marijuana in Washington State, although some local jurisdictions have banned dispensaries within their city limits.
Purchases include both cannabis and cannabis-infused products along with paraphernalia such as pipes, lighters and papers, making most recreational marijuana dispensaries a one-stop smoke shop. When it is time to light up, however, make sure you’re not anywhere near a school, park or public transportation, otherwise you could be subject to a fine.
Purchasing & Possession Limits
Customers can purchase up to one ounce of cannabis flower at a time.The limit for concentrates is seven grams; for edibles it is 16 ounces; and for liquids it is 72 ounces. This is also the limit you can have on your person at any time. If you have any more than this, it’s possible the law will see this as “intent to distribute” and impose jail time or a fine.
Medical marijuana patients, however, have higher possession limits. All cardholders in the state may possess up to three ounces of usable marijuana, forty-eight ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, two hundred sixteen ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form or, twenty-one grams of marijuana concentrate.
Patients who cultivate their own cannabis are also allowed to possess higher amounts, but only if the cannabis is from their own crop. For the standard 6 plants all medical cardholders are allowed to grow, a patient may possess up to eight ounces of personally cultivated usable marijuana. Those with extended plant counts (up to 15), may possess up to 16 oz (1lb) of useable marijuana. Where to Buy
Cannabis delivery of any kind is not allowed in Washington state.
Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana
Washington state’s medical marijuana program is separate and distinct from adult-use regulations. The program allows for different pricing and possession for patients with debilitating or terminal illnesses. The qualifying conditions for the state’s program are:
- Cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, or spasticity disorders.
- Intractable pain, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean pain unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications.
- Glaucoma, either acute or chronic, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean increased intraocular pressure unrelieved by standard treatments and medications.
- Crohn’s disease with debilitating symptoms unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
- Hepatitis C with debilitating nausea or intractable pain unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
- Diseases, including anorexia, which result in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, or spasticity, when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
- Chronic renal failure requiring hemodialysis.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Traumatic brain injury.
More information about qualifying conditions can be found on Washington State Department of Health’s website. Get Your Card
When it comes to smoking marijuana or consuming cannabis products, it’s against the law to light up in any public place. This means that you can’t smoke a joint on the sidewalk, in a state or federal park, or in any other public place, including private property if it’s close enough to a public space where people can smell the smoke. The best places for consumers to light up are in private homes, medical marijuana collective social clubs, or at marijuana friendly hotels. Remember, discretion is key!
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
To be considered driving under the influence of marijuana, you’ll need to have at least five nanograms per milliliter of THC in your bloodstream. As a driver in Washington, you automatically give your consent for drug testing if you’re arrested. However if you refuse the test, you can still face fines and jail time. Bottom line? Avoid smoking and driving to stay on the right side of the law.
Traveling With or Transporting Marijuana
Transporting marijuana from state to state is illegal, whether crossing state lines in a car or sending a package of marijuana products in the mail. Consumers need to be aware that if a package containing marijuana is mailed, both the send and the receiver can face prosecution from both states.The consequences of breaking these laws could result in fines and up to five years in prison, depending on the amount.
Cultivation of Marijuana
Neither dispensaries, processors, nor private growers are allowed to grow their own marijuana without looking at a hefty fine of up to $10,000 and five years behind bars, regardless of whether or not there is intent to sell.
In fact, the only businesses that are strictly regulated to cultivate marijuana in Washington are licensed grow facilities, who deliver the product to dispensaries after harvest.
Medical marijuana patients, however, can grow their own cannabis. All cardholding patients may cultivate up to 6 plants, and those that get special dispensation from their doctor may grow up to 15 plants. Those that cultivate their own crop will have increased possession limits as well (8oz and 16 oz respectively). Learn to Grow
Consumption by Minors
There’s no way around it. To purchase or smoke marijuana in Washington, you need to be at least 21 years of age or older. If a minor is caught consuming marijuana, they could incur fines, suspension of a driver’s license, and even drug rehab. In fact, minors are not even allowed inside a marijuana dispensary in Washington. Having said this, minors with medical issues can receive a medical marijuana prescription from their doctor.
Legal information about medical and recreational marijuana laws in Washington, including Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma.
FAQs on Marijuana
Frequently Asked Questions about Marijuana
When can I buy marijuana legally?
Recreational marijuana sales to the public began July, 8 2014.
What is a license?
The law creates three separate tiers: marijuana producer, marijuana processor, and marijuana retailer. Specific license requirements are detailed in the rules which are available here. The best way to keep up to date on the process is to register for email notifications on the WSLCB website lcb.wa.gov.
How much does a license cost?
The law establishes a license application fee at $266 and a $1,062 renewal fee for each of the three licenses; marijuana producer, marijuana processor and marijuana retailer.
Can I hold all three license types?
Having all three licenses is not permitted. A licensee may hold both a producer and a processor license simultaneously. The initiative does not allow a producer and/or processor to also be a retailer.
How many producer and processor licenses will be issued?
No limit. The LCB opened a 30 day window in November 2013 where anyone could apply, and qualified applicants will receive licenses.
Can I grow my own marijuana now? Can I sell my homegrown marijuana?
Home grown marijuana for recreational use, as well as sale, remains illegal. Recreational use marijuana must be purchased from a state-licensed retailer.
Are there restrictions on where marijuana businesses can locate?
You cannot set up a store within 1000 feet of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter. Local authorities will also be notified and have an opportunity to object.
Note: Recent legislation allows local governments to pass an ordinance to allow for a reduction in the 1000-foot buffer requirements to 100 feet around all entities except elementary and secondary schools and public playgrounds.
Are the retail outlets run by the state?
Stores are licensed and regulated by the WSLCB but are private-sector businesses.
Can I incorporate marijuana sales into my existing business?
No. Retail outlets may only sell marijuana, marijuana concentrates, marijuana infused products and marijuana paraphernalia.
Can customers consume in a retail store?
No. On-premise consumption is not allowed.
Are there any restrictions on advertising?
Are non-Washington residents able to purchase marijuana?
Yes, but the marijuana products are to be consumed in Washington.
Note: The WSLCB is a licensing and regulatory agency and does not handle criminal prosecutions
What is the WSLCB doing to ensure public safety, especially preventing access by minors?
Public safety is central to the WSLCB mission. As expected by the voters, the rules we created include minimums for security, preventing minors’ access to marijuana and other provisions. Educating retailers and preventing minors access to marijuana is an important part of our enforcement work today.
What is the DUI provision?
The initiative sets a per se DUI limit of “delta-9” THC levels at greater than or equal to 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood (5 ng/mL). State and local law enforcement agencies are tasked with enforcing the DUI limit.
Can I still be drug tested now that marijuana is legal
The law does not address the topic of drug testing but it is our understanding that employers may still conduct drug testing at their discretion. Since marijuana is illegal under federal law institutions that receive federal funds will still be subject to mandated testing. Organizations such as the NFL and NBA have issued statements that marijuana consumption is a violation of their conduct policy and they intend to continue testing for it.
The initiative says I cannot consume marijuana in public. What is the definition of “in public?”
The law states that it is unlawful to open/consume a package of marijuana or marijuana infused product in view of the general public.
Can marijuana purchased legally in Washington be transported to other states?
No. Marijuana and marijuana products are to be consumed in Washington State.
What is the federal government going to do?
On August 29, 2013 Attorney General Eric Holder called both Governors Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper (Colorado) to outline the federal government’s guidance on legalized marijuana. That guidance was also outlined in a memo which focuses on eight points of federal emphasis such as youth access and public safety which the LCB’s rules address. The regulatory system for marijuana, and the rules written by the Board appears to meet those eight points. The memo does not change federal law. Governor Inslee’s office is maintaining an open dialogue with the federal government and the WSLCB is moving forward to carry out the expectations of the agency under the new law.
Since marijuana is legal in Washington can the federal government still prosecute me?
Yes. Washington’s system of legalized marijuana does not preempt federal law. Presently Washington State residents involved in marijuana production /retailing could still be subject to prosecution if the federal government chooses to do so.
Can the federal government confiscate my assets?
Yes. Confiscation of assets is one of the enforcement tactics available to federal authorities.
What about industrial hemp? Does this create a new market for hemp products?
No. The law is focused on legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. The law modifies the definition of “marijuana” to include only cannabis greater than 0.3 percent THC concentration. Cannabis under this limit – industrial hemp – is not treated as recreational “marijuana.”
How can I apply for a job with WSLCB?
All job openings will be posted in the careers section of our website. The actual application process is done through Careers.wa.gov. Visit their website and fill out your profile in advance so you are ready when opportunities become available.
Does the WSLCB drug test new employees?
The WSLB does not drug test administrative staff at the time of hiring. However, we do test potential enforcement staff for drugs, including marijuana. The WSLCB is a drug-free workplace. All employees are expected to not be impaired at work. Should a reasonable suspicion arise that an employee is impaired, that person may be tested.
I’m an expert in the field of marijuana how can I be involved in the process?
Our rule-making system is a public process and we engage citizens along the way. Like hiring, the best way to keep up to date on the process is to register for email notifications. We will be sending out timelines and requests for public comment using email.
How much tax revenue will marijuana sales generate?
You can find the most recent financial data on our Frequently Requested Lists page.
How is it going to be taxed?
Effective July 1, 2015, tax reforms defined in HB 2136 change the existing marijuana excise tax structure. A 37 percent marijuana excise tax must now be collected exclusively at the retail level. In addition, B&O taxes on the production and local retail sales taxes apply.
Marijuana tax rates are too high, can you lower them?
WSLCB officials do not have the authority to change the taxes. Any change to the tax structure would have to come from the legislature.
Is CBD oil exempt from the 37% marijuana excise tax?
CBD oil that is sold at retail from within the state regulated system is subject to excise tax.
CBD products could be considered in the medically compliant product category if it meets the terms established by the Department of Health as medically compliant. When sold to a registered patient or registered caregiver, CBD compliant product in the medical system is sales tax exempt, not excise tax exempt.
The CBD import law that allows imported CBD to be used as an additive does not provide a tax exemption, as that product can only be added to other product already within the state system.
Is product liability insurance required?
Commercial general liability or commercial umbrella insurance (if necessary for adequate coverage) is required for all licensees under WAC 314-55-082. Under subsection (1), licensees must at all times carry and maintain commercial general liability insurance and if necessary, commercial umbrella insurance for bodily injury and property damage arising out of licensed activities. This insurance shall cover such claims as may be caused by any act, omission, or negligence of the licensee or its officers, agents, representatives, assigns, or servants. The insurance shall also cover bodily injury, including disease, illness and death, and property damage arising out of the licensee’s premises/operations, products, and personal injury. The limits of liability insurance shall not be less than one million dollars.
Commercial general liability or commercial umbrella insurancecoverage would likely cover instances of product liability claims. Separate product liability coverage is not required under the rule so long as the commercial liability or umbrella coverage is sufficient. More information about insurance coverage for marijuana businesses is available at the Office of Insurance Commissioner’s website.
Should a producer or processor add a retailer to their insurance certificate?
No, each licensee should have their own insurance coverage for their own activities. Adding a retailer to a producer/processor’s insurance certificatewould mean double coverage on products/activities and is not a common business practice and would be in conflict with the prohibitions in WAC 314-055-018.
FAQs on Marijuana Frequently Asked Questions about Marijuana Subtopics (links) Licenses When can I buy marijuana legally? Recreational marijuana sales to the public began