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Washington State Marijuana Laws

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Many state legislatures have enacted statutes legalizing recreational marijuana use, and the state of Washington is among them. While adults over the age of 21 can legally purchase and consume cannabis, marijuana still comes with some limits regarding its use, sale, and production. If you break one of Washington’s marijuana laws, you could face significant consequences, including jail time, fines, and mandatory community service or probation.

Marijuana Purchase and Sale Laws in Washington

Washington, along with Colorado, was one of the first states to legalize marijuana in the country. Adults 21 years and older can purchase marijuana for recreational use with a valid I.D. in the state. However, consumers can only purchase up to 1 ounce of dried cannabis flower at a time for recreational use, and up to 24 ounces at a time for medical marijuana patients. Recreational users cannot grow their own cannabis plants, and medical users can grow up to 15 plants. 

There is no criminal penalty for the possession and use of marijuana in the amount of 1 ounce or less. Possession of more than 1 ounce up to 40 grams can result in a misdemeanor charge and up to 90 days in prison. Possession of more than 40 grams can result in a felony charge and up to 5 years in prison. In addition, public consumption of marijuana can result in a $100 fine.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board oversees all cannabis sales, and all cannabis storefronts must adhere to the following restrictions and guidelines.

  • Marijuana dispensaries must not be within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, library, childcare center, or public park.
  • The only storefronts allowed to sell marijuana must sell cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia only. Existing retailers cannot add marijuana to their inventory.
  • Marijuana retailers must only sell to legal customers and honor the purchasing restrictions.

The illegal sale and manufacturing of marijuana is still a crime in Washington state. If the state catches you selling cannabis illegally, you can be subject to the following consequences.

  • The illegal sale of less than 40 grams can lead to up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Subsequent offenses can double these penalties.
  • If the marijuana sale led to the consumer’s death, the seller can receive a class B felony charge, up to 10 years in prison, and up to $20,000 in fines.

What Happens If You Get Pulled Over with Marijuana in Your Vehicle?

Although recreational cannabis use is legal in Washington, driving with this substance and driving under the influence of this substance is still a serious crime. Washington drivers must follow strict guidelines if they have cannabis in their vehicles.

First, the driver must store the marijuana in a sealed container. Next, the driver must store that container in the trunk, a glove compartment, or another place that is inaccessible while driving. Third, the driver cannot use the substance while driving — doing so can lead to additional driving under the influence charges.

If a police officer finds improperly-stored marijuana in a vehicle, the driver may face penalties such as jail time, fines, and mandatory community service or other education programs. DUI charges can lead to even more serious penalties.

What to Do After a Marijuana-Related Arrest

After a marijuana-related arrest, it is important to remain calm and comply with law enforcement. Do not resist arrest or try to defend yourself. Remain silent and do not speak to any investigators or officers until your attorney is present.

If you are facing charges for a marijuana-related crime in Washington, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. It may feel tempting to enter the criminal justice system without a lawyer or use a public defender — but hiring your own attorney can provide numerous benefits for your case, including access to resources and open, honest, and direct communication. If you have not done so already, contact your lawyer as soon as you can following your arrest.

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