Washington Marijuana Limitations

Washington Marijuana Limitations

What Happens if I am Under 21 and Caught Carrying or Using Cannabis?

Despite the legalization of marijuana, Washington has declared it illegal for residents under the age of 21 to possess marijuana.

Per RCW 69.50.4014 and RCW 69.50.360, the State makes it illegal for underaged residents to possess 40 grams or less of marijuana. Residents under the age of 21 caught in possession of marijuana are subject to penalties and may receive a drug crime charge. A violation of these laws is classified as a simple misdemeanor and is punished by up to 90 days in county prison and a $1,000 fine. Possession of over 40 grams of marijuana is punishable as a felony for any Washington resident under the age of 21.

If you are convicted of a minor in possession of marijuana in Washington, the court will notify the Department of Licensing (DOL) of the conviction. The DOL will then send a letter to you informing you that your license will be suspended beginning 45 days later. The period of suspension depends on your age and whether this is your first minor in possession charge.

Where is it Legal to Smoke Weed in Washington?

Washington law prohibits marijuana use in public. The state provides for private marijuana use; hence people can consume openly in their residences as long as the property owners allow it. Marijuana cannot be smoked in public places such as sidewalks, roadways, or public parks. Also, perRCW 70.160, Washington prohibits smoking of any kind in public places and places of employment.

Per theWashington Smoking in Public Places Law, smoking marijuana in any indoor location is restricted. Marijuana smoking is prohibited in public or at work, as well as within 25 feet of doors, exits, open windows, and air intakes serving enclosed spaces. If an establishment permits it and you are vaporizing or staying in a room in which smoking is permitted, you can legally consume marijuana in a private hotel room.

Note that law against marijuana use in public view applies to state parks, public hiking trails, and ski resorts. If you are also on navigable waters, the United States Coast Guard will enforce federal laws. You should also not smoke weed on federal lands and properties inside Washington.

Can I Leave Washington with Cannabis?

Marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law. Per Section 812 of Title 21 in the United States Code, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled Substance. Hence, when you buy cannabis in Washington, it is illegal to take it across state lines, even if you are traveling to a state where retail cannabis is also legal. Note that a marijuana prescription or medical marijuana card from your home state does not provide you with a defense against transporting marijuana between states.

Although the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents may be more preoccupied with terrorism and large-scale drug trafficking, trying to pass through security or board a flight with medical marijuana could still get you arrested.

Federal penalties for traveling across state lines are based on several factors, such as:

  • Prior criminal record
  • Evidence of sale or distribution
  • Evidence of cultivation
  • The amount of cannabis involved
  • Whether any other substances are involved

Federal marijuana possession charges involving a small amount of medical marijuana are often treated as misdemeanors for first-time offenders. Penalties may include up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. For large amounts of marijuana, even if it is medical, federal agents may presume that you are going to sell the drugs instead of using them personally. Selling marijuana, even medical marijuana, is a felony, with penalties including five years or more in federal prison and fines of $250,000 or more.

Will Cannabis Affect My Driving Record in Washington?

A drugged driving conviction can have significant impacts on your criminal history record and driving record. Both records are important while seeking insurance for your automobile. Typically, an insurance company will raise the cost of your insurance premiums if you have had a drugged driving conviction. Rates after drugged driving convictions may double or triple the rates before conviction. Other factors such as at-fault accidents may combine with drugged driving convictions to raise your rates even further.

You will face the following consequences if you are caught driving under the influence of cannabis in Washington:

  • First offense: The first time you are caught drugged-driving, you will face a prison sentence of at least 24 hours and at most, 1 year. In some instances, electronic home monitoring may be substituted for prison time. In addition, you will be fined for at least $350 or up to $5,000. First-time offenders will also have their driving licenses suspended for 90 days and may be required to have anti-intoxication devices installed on the ignitions of their cars.
  • Second offense: A second-time offender caught under the influence of cannabis will be sent to prison for no less than 30 days. The sentence may last as long as one year with an additional 60 days of house arrest. The offender is also subject to a fine of no less than $500 and up to $5,000.

Also, second-time offenders may have their driver's licenses suspended for 2 years and their vehicles seized or forfeited. Upon the completion of their suspensions, they will be required to have anti-intoxication devices installed on their cars' ignitions.

  • Third and Fourth Offense: Third or fourth-time offenders caught driving under the influence of marijuana within a 7-year period of time will be sentenced to prison. The prison sentence will be at least 90 days and a maximum of 1 year. The sentence will be supplemented by 120 days of house arrest.

Third or fourth-time offenders may also receive fines no less than $1,000 and 3-year license suspensions. Offenders' vehicles will be subject to forfeitures. Their cars will also have anti-intoxication devices fitted into them.

Can I Get a DUI if I Drive While I am High?

You can be charged with drugged driving in Washington if you are high and the consequences can adversely affect your life and livelihood. Studies have shown that marijuana use can affect decision-making, decrease peripheral vision, and inhibit the ability to multitask. Unlike drivers under the influence of alcohol, many drivers under the influence of marijuana are aware that they are impaired. Hence, they tend to compensate by driving more slowly and allowing extra space between vehicles.

In Washington, it is illegal to operate a car with a blood alcohol content (BAC) equal to or above 0.08%, but law enforcement cannot use BAC testing to determine a driver's level of marijuana impairment. To resolve the issue, the Washington legislature set a tetrahydrocannabinol threshold to measure drivers' marijuana impairment. Per RCW § 46.61.502(b), " a driver is under the influence of marijuana when he/she has a THC concentration of 5.00 nanograms or more in his/her bloodstream within 2 hours of driving." RCW § 46.61.502(c) also states that "law enforcement can arrest a driver if he/she is simply "affected' by marijuana as well – even if the driver's bloodstream THC levels do not exceed 5.00." THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical component in marijuana that causes the psychological effects of consumption.

The police in Washington often rely on roadside sobriety tests to determine if drivers are under the influence of marijuana. However, in order to pull you over for a marijuana DUI, the police officer must have reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing. Reasonable suspicion must include obvious signs that can be articulated to the court by the arresting officer. These can include:

  • Irregular speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Impaired speech or physical symptoms
  • Marijuana in the vehicle
  • The smell of marijuana

When some or all of these signs are present, the arresting officer may invite an officer with some extra training in drug recognition, more commonly called a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), to the scene. The DRE adds more validity to the final police report that it may have otherwise not had. Once a decision has been made by the police that there is impairment due to marijuana use, the driver may be subjected to a blood test. Per Washington Implied Consent Laws, refusal to submit to a properly requested blood test will have the same effects that refusal to submit to a breath test would have. The main penalty is a potential long-term administrative license suspension (1-2 years) and the fact of a refusal being admissible at any trial to show consciousness of guilt.

Consequent to a refusal to submit to a blood draw, the police may obtain a warrant to take a blood sample to test for the presence of marijuana from a suspected impaired driver. In some jurisdictions, a warrant can be obtained by sending an email to a judge in the county of arrest. Note that no warrant is necessary if there is a valid waiver of the warrant requirement or if exigent circumstance exists.

Once the police obtain warrants, suspects can be taken to the hospital to have their blood drawn. The blood samples will then be tested at toxicological laboratories. Regardless of their THC level, drivers may be arrested if they appear to be too impaired to drive. It may take many months for the test results to be submitted to the officer, who then submits them to the prosecutor. You can be convicted based on the results of a marijuana DUI blood test.

Can I Buy Marijuana in Washington?

Yes, any Washington resident above the age of 21 can legally purchase marijuana and its products at certified locations in the state. Both medical and recreational marijuana are available for purchase. While recreational marijuana purchase requires buyers to be above the age of 21, medical marijuana users may be under the age of 21. In such instances, medical marijuana purchases must be made by designated caregivers who are above the age of 21. Washington requires a designated caregiver to be:

  • A parent or guardian of a qualifying patient under the age of 18;
  • who has been identified on the patient's medical marijuana authorization form and has a fully completed form printed on tamper-resistant paper; and
  • registered in the medical marijuana database and has a designated provider recognition card.

Designated caregivers are required to have their own medical marijuana authorization form provided by the patient's healthcare practitioner. Per RCW 69.51A.010(4), a designated caregiver can only serve one patient at any one time. Note that certain jurisdictions have banned dispensaries within their city limits.

Where Can I Buy Marijuana in Washington?

You can purchase adult-use marijuana from recreational dispensaries throughout the state if you are of legal age. These dispensaries are different from medical marijuana dispensaries and have a different type of license to sell to recreational users. Medical marijuana dispensaries are the go-to locations for medical marijuana purchases. Note that while some dispensaries are permitted to sell both medical and recreational marijuana, not all are. Medical marijuana dispensaries typically have consultants on site.

Recreational marijuana users can purchase cannabis products such as buds (flower), hash oil, edibles, cannabis-infused drinks.

How Much is Marijuana in Washington?

Marijuana prices in Washington vary in relation to several factors. On average, marijuana prices vary by the strain, the season you are buying in, and the quality of the product. Average prices for marijuana flower strains are listed below:

  • Gram: $5 - $13
  • Eight: $20 - $40
  • Quarter: $50 - 80
  • Half Ounce: $146 - $160
  • Ounce: $100 - $248

You can find pre-rolls for relatively cheap prices depending on which dispensary you visit and if the dispensary is running a promotion. On average, pre-rolls cost between $6 and $20 per gram, but some buyers may be able to get cheap deals if they are loyalty reward members, medical patients, or can find dispensaries running daily deals.

Marijuana concentrates range from $15 to $30 but may cost between $25 and $75 for medical marijuana patients depending on which concentrates they plan on buying. Marijuana edibles prices vary based on the kind you purchase, how many edibles are in each pack or bottle, and the number of milligrams per edible and package. Generally, edibles cost between $4 and $50. Basic edibles like chocolates may cost around $30 per pack, while edible brownies cost around $11 per one 10-milligram brownie.

How Much Cannabis Can I Legally Have?

Per Initiative 502, recreational marijuana users in Washington can purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis flower at a time. The State sets a limit of 7 grams for cannabis concentrates. For cannabis edibles, the limit is 16 ounces, while for liquids, it is 72 ounces. Washington also stipulates that these are the limits residents can have on them at any time. Residents caught with higher amounts of marijuana may face jail times or fines. In such cases, the law considers the possession as "intent to distribute", which is punishable under the state code.

Medical marijuana patients can possess higher amounts of marijuana than recreational users. Medical marijuana users in Washington are allowed to possess up to 3 ounces of usable marijuana, 48 ounces of solid-form marijuana-infused products, 216 ounces of liquid-form marijuana-infused product, or 21 grams of marijuana concentrate.

Patients who cultivate their own cannabis are permitted to possess higher amounts of the plant but only if the cannabis is from their own crop. For the standard 6 plants all medical cardholders can grow, a patient may possess up to 8 ounces of personally cultivated usable marijuana.

If a patient's healthcare practitioner determines the patient requires more than the standard amount, Washington permits the practitioner to authorize the patient to:

  • Cultivate up to 15 plants for personal medical use
  • Possess 16 ounces of usable marijuana produced from their plants

Even if the housing unit has several qualified patients or authorized providers, no more than 15 plants may be grown or placed there. Washington provides an exception to this rule for registered cooperatives defined under RCW 69.51A.250.

Qualified patients and designated caregivers with valid authorization forms under the Washington medical cannabis program who opt not to be registered in the database may:

Non Patients who cultivate marijuana at home are breaking the law. In Washington, such an act is classified as a Class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.

Where is Weed Legal?

State Legal Status Medicinal Recreational
Alabama Criminalized No No
Alaska Decriminalized Yes Yes
Arizona Decriminalized Yes Yes
Arkansas Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Colorado Decriminalized Yes Yes
Connecticut Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Delaware Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
District of Columbia Decriminalized Yes Yes
Florida Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Georgia Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Hawaii Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Idaho Decriminalized No No
Illinois Decriminalized Yes Yes
Indiana Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Iowa Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Kansas Decriminalized No No
Kentucky Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Louisiana Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Maine Decriminalized Yes Yes
Maryland Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Massachusetts Decriminalized Yes Yes
Michigan Decriminalized Yes Yes
Minnesota Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Mississippi Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Missouri Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Montana Decriminalized Yes Yes
Nebraska Decriminalized No Yes
Nevada Decriminalized Yes Yes
New Hampshire Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
New Jersey Decriminalized Yes Yes
New Mexico Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
New York Decriminalized Yes Yes
North Carolina Decriminalized No Yes
North Dakota Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Ohio Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Oklahoma Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Oregon Decriminalized Yes Yes
Pennsylvania Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Rhode Island Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
South Carolina Decriminalized No No
South Dakota Decriminalized Yes Yes
Tennessee Decriminalized No No
Texas Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Utah Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Vermont Decriminalized Yes Yes
Virginia Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil Yes
Washington Decriminalized Yes Yes
West Virginia Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Wisconsin Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Wyoming Decriminalized No No
Washington Marijuana Limitations