Washington Marijuana Trafficking Laws

Can You Mail Weed Legally in Washington

No. Although adult-use cannabis is legal in Washington, sending weed by mail, even to other residents in the state, may put the sender and receiver in legal jeopardy. Since marijuana is still considered illegal by the federal government, sending it via a federally managed postal system, such as the United States Postal Service (USPS), may attract drug trafficking charges and result in severe penalties.

Mailing weed through private mail carriers like UPS or FedEx may also result in legal repercussions. These carriers have special policies prohibiting the shipment of items considered illegal by local, state, and federal laws. Although marijuana is legal in Washington, state law prohibits the delivery of the substance except if it is done to or on approved marijuana retailers. 

What Are the Penalties for Transporting Edibles Across State Lines in Washington

Although marijuana edibles are legal in Washington under Initiative 502, it is illegal to transport them across state lines, even if they are also permitted in the state you are moving to. Transporting marijuana products, including edibles, across state lines without a federal license violates federal law. Such an act is considered drug trafficking by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and attracts varying penalties depending on the amount of edibles trafficked. For less than 50 kilograms of marijuana product, the maximum penalty for a first-time offense is up to 5 years imprisonment and $250,000 in fines for a single individual. The maximum punishment doubles for a second offense: up to 10 years imprisonment and $500,000 in fines.

How to Get a Drug Trafficking Charge Dismissed in Washington?

Obtaining dismissal of charges for drug trafficking is difficult but possible. In order to get drug trafficking charges dismissed, you should consider hiring the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer and follow these steps:

  • Prove there was a mistake: One way to get your drug charges dismissed is to demonstrate that they should never have applied in the first place. You may be able to avoid conviction if you can cast doubt on the notion that you intended to distribute the drugs found in your possession. If the prosecutor cannot provide significant evidence that you planned to deliver or distribute the drug to someone else, the jury may dismiss your charges
  • Establish a violation of your rights: If you can demonstrate that the search conducted on your person, car or other property was illegal or that the drugs were put on you by the police, the charges will be dismissed due to incompetence or corruption. Corruption indicators include violence threats, evidence fabrication, and disregard for appropriate processes. You may attempt to demonstrate that you were the victim of entrapment, that is, the police pressured you into committing a crime you ordinarily would not have committed.

If it turns out that you were not read your Miranda Rights upon arrest, you can also have your charges dismissed. Before law enforcement may use anything you say against you in court, they are required to advise you of your rights, such as the right to stay quiet. The court will disregard whatever you say after being arrested, if the words were said before being informed of your rights. If what you said during this period was significant to the case against you, it must be expunged from the record. This may lead to the dismissal of your charges

  • Make a deal: Remember that the purpose of the court is not necessarily to ensure you suffer the harshest penalty possible. Authorities may be searching for a "bigger target," so if you offer information, the court may permit you to negotiate a plea bargain in which your drug trafficking charges are dismissed in exchange for a lesser penalty. If you have information on other drug traffickers, manufacturers, or smugglers, law enforcement may dismiss the charges against you. You may be able to seek addiction therapy as an option if you use drugs yourself. In this situation, known as diversion or deferred prosecution, you agree to participate in a drug treatment program in return for the dismissal of your charges. In order for any of these alternatives to work, you must agree to court stipulated conditions.

Drug programs are available in drug courts across Washington, such as in Thurston, Spokane, Clallam, Clark, Kitsap, Skagit, Whatcom, Cowlitz, King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Yakima Counties. Drug courts are typically pre-sentencing programs providing participants with the opportunity to receive drug treatment instead of imprisonments terms and possibly have charges dismissed

Drug Trafficking Facts in Washington

In Washington, drug trafficking is not one specific offense. The exact charges you face depend on a variety of criteria, including the sort of substance allegedly found in your possession, the quantity of the drug, and your alleged actions. Any drug trafficking allegation in Washington is severe, regardless of whether it involves marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, oxycontin, morphine, heroin, codeine, ketamine, barbiturates, opium, methamphetamines, opium, or other unlawful prescriptions.

Drug trafficking goes beyond simple possession or possession with the intent to sell. This violation may cover a variety of behaviors involving controlled substances, including cultivation, production, transportation, importation, distribution, and sale. To be charged with drug trafficking is to be accused of taking part in producing, distributing, and selling a substantial quantity of illegal substances.

The Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (VUCSA) of Washington defines state-level drug crimes. The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 69.50.401 makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute, or possess a controlled drug to manufacture or deliver it. 

Although many persons are prosecuted for state-level drug trafficking violations, it is also possible to face federal charges at the same time as state charges. A drug offense may be prosecuted as a federal offense if the following conditions are met:

  • You crossed state lines with illegal substances
  • The drug trafficking offense occurred on federal property
  • You were investigated by a federal agency, such as the DEA

In addition, you are more likely to be prosecuted with a federal violation if your alleged crime seems to be part of a wider drug or criminal conspiracy or if substantial amounts of a controlled substance were involved.

Also, you may be prosecuted with drug trafficking under Section 841 of Title 21 of the USC, which makes it illegal to knowingly or intentionally manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a restricted drug.

Depending on the kind of substance, the quantity, and your criminal history, you may face a minimum jail term of five, ten, or twenty years. For instance, a first conviction for trafficking five kilograms or more of a cocaine mixture, a substantial quantity of a Schedule II substance, would result in a sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison. A first conviction for trafficking 100 to 999 grams of heroin, a smaller quantity of a Schedule I substance, carries a jail sentence of five to forty years.

According to a University of Washington publication, methamphetamine accounts for nearly 60% of drug seizure cases in Washington. Also, the FBI Uniform Crime Report recorded 1,494, 1,386, 1,551, and 919 drug sales and manufacturing arrests in Washington in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively.

How Many Grams of Weed Is Considered Trafficking in Washington?

Forty grams. Pursuant to RCW 69.50.4014, possessing 40 grams or less of weed is only considered a misdemeanor in Washington State. Per RCW 69.50.425, possessing up to 40 grams is punishable by a minimum of one day in jail, a $250 fine, up to a maximum of 90 days imprisonment, and a $1,000 fine. Beyond that, the defendant may be charged with drug trafficking, which is considered a felony in the state.

What Are the Weed Trafficking Consequences in Washington?

Per RCW 69.40.401 and 69.50.430, weed trafficking in Washington is a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and five years imprisonment. If the weed is sold to a minor at least three years younger than the defendant, the penalty is ten years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Weed trafficking occurring within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop, school, or public housing project designated as a drug-free zone, public park, or public transportation attracts double the standard fines and imprisonment.

How to Transport Weed Legally in Washington

In order to transport weed legally in Washington, you must obtain a cannabis transportation license issued by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB). You must apply to the WSLCB before you may be issued a transportation license. The WSLCB will require the following before issuing the license:

  • Copies of the current Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) common carrier permits
  • Criminal history background check materials pursuant to WAC 314-55-035
  • Proof of insurance
  • Corporate information form or limited liability information form, whichever is applicable
  • Documents showing the right to use the physical location to be licensed (lease or purchase and sale agreement)
  • Completed online application on the WSLCB licensing portal
  • Payment for the application fee of $250 and annual fee of $1,300

The WSLCB has specific documentation requirements for the transportation of marijuana. Upon transporting any marijuana or marijuana product, a licensee or testing laboratory must notify the WSLCB of the following information:

  • The type, quantity, and weight of marijuana or the marijuana products being transported
  • The name of the transporter
  • Information about the transporting vehicle
  • Times of departure and expected delivery
  • The transporter's contact information

The licensee or laboratory receiving the product must record the quantity and weight of the products received. A fully printed transport manifest on a form supplied by the WSLCB must be retained with the transported products at all times. 

Additional requirements for transporting weed in Washington include that:

  • Every driver of weed transportation vehicles must be at least 21 years old and in possession of a valid Washington driver's license
  • Marijuana or marijuana products must be packaged in WSLCB-approved sealed packagings or containers
  • During transportation, sealed products or containers must not be opened
  • Marijuana or marijuana products must be stored in locked, safe, and secure containers inside the vehicles
  • Any vehicle carrying marijuana or marijuana products must be delivered or returned to the shipper within forty-eight hours after pickup
  • Transportation of live plants is permissible in a completely enclosed, lockable, windowless trailer or in a locked compartment inside the interior compartment of a van or box truck. Live plants cannot be transported in the bed of a pickup truck, SUV, or passenger vehicle