Cannabis cultivation is legal in King County for recreational and medical use. Medical marijuana was legalized in Washington, King County's home state, in 1998 through Initiative 692. The state legalized recreational marijuana on December 6, 2012, through Initiative 502. This voter-approved initiative allows licensed marijuana producers to cultivate marijuana plants for wholesale to licensed cannabis processors and other producers. In King County, it is illegal to grow marijuana plants at home for recreational use. However, registered medical marijuana patients can grow up to four cannabis plants at home.
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) regulates recreational and medical cannabis activities in the state and licenses marijuana businesses. Per Initiative 502, prospective cannabis producers must obtain permits from the local authorities of the cities or counties they intend to establish their cultivation facilities before the LCB can issue them licenses. Different counties in Washington have local ordinances for regulating cannabis business activities within their territories. According to Title 21A of the King County Code, licensed cannabis producers may grow marijuana plants indoors within greenhouses or outdoors. Also, they may cultivate marijuana plants in agricultural (A), rural area (RA), regional business (RB), community business (CB), and industrial (I) zoning districts of King County.
Cannabis manufacturing is legal in King County. Per Initiative 502, marijuana processors must obtain licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) before they can legally operate in King County. Nevertheless, King County has local ordinances for regulating cannabis manufacturing activities within its borders. According to Title 21A of the King County Code, licensed cannabis producers may dry, cure, trim, and package the marijuana plants they cultivate in rural area (RA) and agricultural (A) zoning districts of the county. Marijuana processors operating in regional business (RB), community business (CB), and industrial (I) zoning districts are permitted to extract concentrates, process cannabis plants mechanically or chemically, and manufacture cannabis-infused products.
It is legal to retail cannabis products in King County. As stipulated in Initiative 502, cannabis dispensary owners in the county must obtain marijuana retail licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) to operate legally. According to the King County zoning code, retail marijuana facilities can be established in regional business (RB) and community business (CB) zoning districts of the county. A dispensary must be at least 1000 square feet away from another marijuana dispensary in the county. Adults, 21 years and older, may legally purchase up to 16 ounces of solid marijuana edibles, 7 grams of concentrates, 1 ounce of harvested cannabis flowers or buds, and 72 ounces of marijuana in liquid form.
The delivery of cannabis products to recreational or medical users in King County is illegal. Nevertheless, Section 69.50.382 of the Revised Code of Washington allows licensed common carriers to deliver cannabis products to licensed marijuana businesses in King County and other parts of the state.
A medical marijuana card in King County is an identification issued by the State of Washington that permits its holder to obtain medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries or possess cannabis for medical use. The Washington State Department of Health is responsible for issuing medical marijuana cards under the state's medical marijuana program. A patient must be diagnosed with an approved severe medical condition by a healthcare practitioner in order to qualify for medical cannabis in the state. The types of healthcare practitioners allowed to recommend medical marijuana for patients in Washington are:
To obtain a medical marijuana card in King County, a patient must book an appointment with a healthcare practitioner to know if their medical condition qualifies them for medical marijuana treatment. If a healthcare practitioner recommends medical marijuana treatment for a patient, they will issue them a medical marijuana authorization form. After obtaining an authorization form, an applicant may call a licensed medical marijuana dispensary to schedule an appointment with a certified consultant. The certified consultant will register them in the state’s medical marijuana database and issue them a medical marijuana card. Applicants are required to provide their marijuana authorization forms and government-issued photo identification during their meetings with certified consultants.
For inquiries about medical marijuana card applications in King County, applicants may contact the Washington State Department of Health by calling 1(360) 4695-236 or making in-person inquiries at:
Washington State Department of Health
Adjudicative Service Office
111 Israel Road South East
Tumwater, WA 98501
The county's comprehensive annual financial report does not reflect its marijuana-generated revenues. Nevertheless, the economic benefits of cannabis can be seen in annual reports released by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB). According to the LCB's 2019 fiscal year reports, Washington generated approximately $367.4 million from cannabis business activities in 2018. The LCB's 2021 fiscal year reports revealed that the state's cannabis-generated income increased to $395.5 million in 2019, $473.9 million in 2020, and $559.5 million in 2021.
According to crime data supplied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by the King County Sheriff's Office, there were four arrests for marijuana possession offenses and two arrests for cannabis sales in 2019. In 2020, there were no arrests for cannabis sales, but the number of cannabis possession arrests increased to 5. Also, the King County Sheriff's Office reported 218 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests in 2019 and 145 DUI arrests in 2020.
The FBI crime data does not indicate arrest numbers for DUI and marijuana-related offenses reported by the King County Sheriff's Office between 2012 (the year of cannabis legalization) and 2018. Nevertheless, 2019 and 2020 arrest figures show that cannabis legalization had varying impacts on crime rates in King County. While the number of arrests for DUI and marijuana sales offenses decreased, arrest numbers for marijuana possession offenses increased.