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Cannabis goes by so many names -- Mary Jane, weed, pot, bud, herb -- but is most commonly known as marijuana. Whether you live in a state where it’s legal to toke or you’re a veteran of the drug war, marijuana laws in each state are very different. Before you take a hit in the Evergreen State (in more ways than one), you should get to know Washington’s marijuana laws.
What the Washington Medical Marijuana Act Says
In the state of Washington, there is no official medical marijuana card. In order to use the herb medicinally, you must be a qualifying medical marijuana patient and have a written recommendation from your doctor or other healthcare provider who is licensed in the state.The written recommendation from your healthcare provider must be on tamper-proof paper, contain an original signature, be dated, and advise that in the healthcare provider’s professional opinion, you would benefit from the medical use of marijuana.
What the Washington Recreational Marijuana Law Says
In July 2014, Initiative 502 legalized recreational marijuana sales. Anyone aged 21 or older may now legally possess marijuana paraphernalia and may legally possess and use marijuana in certain amounts (Sec. 69.50.4013). Here is a breakdown of Washington's marijuana laws:
Anyone 21 or Older May Legally Possess and Use (Sec. 69.50.360):
Still Against the Law:
Civil Liability for Selling Marijuana to a Minor:
Read the full text of the compiled Washington Statutes for more details.
Federal Marijuana Laws
Keep in mind that even though many forms of recreational use and medical use of marijuana are now legal in Washington, the federal government continues to criminalize possession; cultivation and production; possession for sale, sale or delivery for sale; and possession of paraphernalia. In August of 2013, in response to multiple states legalizing marijuana use, the Department of Justice announced that it was changing its enforcement efforts. Some of these changes include:
I Was Caught Growing Marijuana: What's Next?
If you were caught growing marijuana in Washington without a license and you do not have a medical authorization, you may be charged with a felony and sentenced up to 5 years in jail and fined up to $10,000 (Sec. 69.50.401). If you do have a medical authorization, you may legally own up to 15 cannabis plants and no more than 24 ounces of usable cannabis (Sec. 69.51A.040). If you were caught growing marijuana in Washington and you have a medical authorization, a Washington attorney may be able to help you avoid jail time.
Get a Free Legal Evaluation from an Attorney Experienced with Marijuana Laws
Washington’s recreational marijuana use law is not a "get out of jail free" card -- there are still several restrictions. If you made the mistake of thinking you could grow some at home or give pot brownies to your buddies, like you can in Oregon, get a free legal evaluation from an attorney who is experienced working with the intricacies of Washington's complicated marijuana laws.