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Marijuana Cultivation and Distribution Charges

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Although recreational marijuana use is legal in Washington state, only state-licensed retail stores can lawfully sell these products to consumers. If you cultivate or distribute marijuana without the proper certification, you can face serious legal consequences — including jail time and expensive fines. Understanding the law surrounding marijuana cultivation and distribution can help you avoid these charges.

Who Can Legally Sell and Distribute Marijuana in the State of Washington?

Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 with the passage of Initiative 502. While marijuana use is legal for adults 21 and older, cannabis is still a controlled substance subject to a number of laws and regulations. Many of these rules concern the sale and distribution of marijuana.

Only licensed Washington dispensaries can sell marijuana. To obtain a license, you will need to submit an application to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) and pay the applicable fees, which can total $1,200 or more. Once you obtain your license, you will need to comply with state regulations on how to operate your retail location.

Cultivation of Marijuana in Washington State

Like marijuana sales and distribution, Washington heavily regulates cannabis cultivation. The state only allows you to legally grow marijuana plants if you are an authorized and licensed grower. Even if you have a retailer’s license, you will need to obtain a separate grower’s license if you want to cultivate plants.

The rules differ for medical marijuana patients. If you have a medical marijuana card, you can cultivate up to six plants in your home. If you have a condition that requires more cannabis consumption, your doctor can authorize you to grow up to 15 plants.

Consequences of Illegal Cultivation and Distribution of Marijuana

If you do not obtain the proper licensing and decide to sell or cultivate marijuana, you can face serious legal consequences. The penalties increase if the sale or cultivation takes place in certain locations, such as near a school or in sober housing, or involves a minor.

Illegal marijuana cultivation is a felony that can result in up to five years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000. If the cultivation occurs in a drug-free zone, the penalties can double. Drug-free zones include any locations within 1,000 feet of a school, school bus stop, or public park. They also include sober public housing projects, on public transportation, or in any other location the state designates as drug-free.

Washington also enforces the following penalties for illegal marijuana distribution.

  • The sale or distribution of any amount of marijuana is a felony. This crime is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • If you sell or distribute marijuana to a minor at least three years younger than you, you will also face felony charges. You can face up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Like cultivation charges, these penalties can double if the crimes occurred in a drug-free zone.

If you are facing criminal charges for cultivating or distributing marijuana, you need a criminal defense attorney on your side. Your attorney will advocate for your side of the story during each step of your case, launch an investigation into your charges, and gather enough evidence to argue for the best possible outcome. Contact a Tacoma drug crimes lawyer immediately after your arrest to begin this process.

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