Cannabis cultivation is legal in Thurston County under the 2015 Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052) that unified the system of cannabis business licensing in Washington State, including production, by July 2016.
The use of medical cannabis by patients with specified debilitating or terminal medical conditions was first allowed in Washington State in 1998 through Initiative 692 (I-692). In 2012, Initiative 502 (I-502) legalized recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and older.
Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 69.51A.260, home cultivation of cannabis is allowed for qualified patients for personal medical use only. Homegrown cannabis cannot be sold or given away to others.
Those who are holders of a Washington State medical marijuana authorization form may each grow up to four cannabis plants at home while registered patients in the Medical Cannabis Authorization Database who are holders of a state medical marijuana recognition card may each grow six to 15 cannabis plants subject to the authorization of their healthcare practitioner. A maximum of 15 plants can be grown in one residence, no matter how many qualified patients reside in it.
However, under RCW 69.51A.250, a maximum of four qualified patients or designated providers aged 21 and older may form and register a cooperative to grow up to 60 cannabis plants in total, subject to the individual authorizations of their respective healthcare practitioners. Members can only grow cannabis in one registered location and may no longer do so separately at home. They are not allowed to sell or give away any cannabis grown in the cooperative.
A qualified patient is one who is registered in the Medical Cannabis Authorization Database. A designated provider is an individual aged 21 and older registered to provide cannabis to the patient through purchases or cultivation. For patients who are aged below 18, this can be a parent or guardian.
Qualified patients and designated providers may purchase cannabis seeds, clones, or immature plants for home-growing from licensed producers. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) is the licensing authority for cannabis producer licenses which permit the holder to commercially grow, harvest, cure, and pack cannabis for sale to other licensed producers and processors. They are also permitted to sell cannabis seeds and plants to other licensed cannabis producers as well as qualified patients, designated providers, and registered cooperatives.
RCW 69.50.325 set the following fees for the cannabis producer license:
Application fee: $250.00
Annual issuance and renewal fee: $1,381.00
Separate license applications and payment of fees are required for every cannabis producer facility location even under the same owner. As of December 2022, though, new applications for cannabis producer licenses are not open. Applications were received from November 18 to December 18, 2013.
RCW 69.50.331(8) prohibits any licensed cannabis producer facility to be 1,000 feet or less from any of the following:
An elementary or secondary school
A childcare center
A game arcade that allows entry to individuals younger than 21
A public park
Any recreation facility
A public transportation center
Under the Thurston County Code Chapter 20.63 or the State-licensed Marijuana Producers, Processors, and Retailers Regulations, cannabis producers must have a license from the State of Washington and are subject to location and design requirements if they wish their facility to be located in the county.
Licensed marijuana producers in Thurston County are only permitted in non-residential zones, as follows, and only if at least 100 feet from the boundary of a residential zone:
Planned Industrial Park District (PI)
Light Industrial District (LI)
Rural Resource Industrial District (RRI)
Rural Commercial Center District (RCC)
A licensed marijuana producer facility in Thurston County must be more than 1,000 feet away from the property line of the following:
A site where people under the age of 21 usually gather for events or activities,
A school district site for future schools, or
A site where the school district has approved the establishment of a school in the next six years.
Licensed cannabis producer facilities in Thurston County are responsible for preventing any marijuana odors from being detectable beyond the production areas.
Outdoor cultivation of cannabis by licensed producers is allowed in Thurston County but subject to the following rules:
Lots must be at least forty acres in size
Outdoor production facilities must be at least 500 feet from the next property line, not including parking areas, driveways, and non-noise-producing utilities
The outdoor production facilities must be enclosed by an opaque fence made of wood or concrete that is at least eight feet high
The following fencing types are not allowed:
Unfinished or untextured concrete block (CMU) fences
Open wire or chain-link fences
Barbed wire or razor fences
Corrugated metal fences
Bright-colored plastic fences
Cannabis manufacturing is legal in Thurston County under SB 5052 provided companies acquire a cannabis processor license from the WSLCB. They must pay the same licensing fees for every manufacturing facility location as licensed cannabis processors. They are also subject to the same site restrictions by RCW 69.50.331(8) as licensed cannabis processors. New applications for cannabis processor licenses were still closed as of December 2022, though.
Chapter 20.63 of the Thurston County Code also requires state-licensed cannabis processors to comply with the county’s location and design requirements. These are the same as those required of licensed cannabis producers. Similarly, they must ensure that marijuana odors do not escape from the processing facilities.
The cannabis processor license authorizes the holder to cure, manufacture, and label cannabis, cannabis concentrates, and cannabis products for wholesale selling to other licensed cannabis processors and licensed cannabis retailers.
Cannabis retail is legal in Thurston County by virtue of SB 5052 for companies with a cannabis retailer license acquired from the WSLCB. Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 314-55-080 further requires that a licensed cannabis retailer acquire a medical cannabis endorsement from the WSLCB to be able to sell medical cannabis and compliant products with high Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content to medical marijuana recognition card holders.
Compliant products mean those that have undergone testing vetted by the Department of Health. Compliant products with high THC content refer to those that contain 10 to 50 milligrams of active THC in every serving or application.
The retailer license requires the same licensing fees as producer and processor licenses for each retail facility location. RCW 69.50.331(8) also imposes the same location restrictions on licensed cannabis retailers as those on licensed producers and processors. No new applications for cannabis retailer licenses have been opened as of December 2022.
Thurston County Code’s Chapter 20.63 mandates that state-licensed cannabis retailers follow the location and design requirements of the county. Like licensed cannabis producers and processors, licensed cannabis retailers in Thurston County licensed marijuana retailers are not permitted in residential zones or less than 100 feet from the boundary of a residential zone.
Licensed retail facilities are only allowed in the following zoning districts:
Rural Resource Industrial District (RRI)
Rural Commercial Center District (RCC)
Arterial Commercial District (AC)
Highway Commercial District (HC)
A licensed marijuana retailer facility in Thurston County must also be at least 300 feet away from the boundary of any other licensed marijuana retailer facility. It must install a ventilation system that prevents any marijuana odors from escaping to the outside of the facility.
According to RCW 69.50.357 and WAC 314-55-080, the cannabis retailer license and medical endorsement allow the holder to sell cannabis, cannabis concentrates, all types of cannabis products including edibles, cannabis paraphernalia, and lockable boxes for cannabis storage. These items can only be sold within purchase limits to adults aged 21 and older with valid ID cards, qualifying patients aged 18 to 21 who hold medical marijuana recognition cards or medical marijuana authorization forms, or designated providers who hold medical marijuana recognition cards. At its discretion, a licensed retailer with a medical endorsement may provide cannabis for free to a qualifying patient or designated provider who holds a medical marijuana recognition card.
Qualifying patients younger than 18 who carry their medical marijuana recognition cards may be allowed on the premises of licensed retail facilities but are not allowed to purchase except through their designated provider.
The purchase limits for qualifying patients or designated providers who are medical marijuana recognition card holders are any combination of the following:
267 ounces of a liquid cannabis-infused product
48 ounces of a solid cannabis-infused product
21 grams of cannabis concentrate
Three ounces of consumable cannabis
Qualifying patients and their designated providers who hold only a medical marijuana authorization form but no medical marijuana recognition card are permitted to purchase only up to the limits allowed for adults aged 21 and older.
The purchase limits for adults aged 21 and older with valid ID cards are any combination of the following:
72ounces of a liquid cannabis-infused product
16ounces of a solid cannabis-infused product
Seven grams of cannabis concentrate
One ounce of consumable cannabis
The following are exempt from retail sales and use taxes:
Purchases by medical marijuana recognition card holders of compliant cannabis products
Purchases by medical marijuana recognition card holders of low-THC cannabis with 0.3% or lower THC content
Purchases by qualifying patients from particular healthcare professionals of low-THC topical cannabis products with 0.3% or lower THC content
Purchases of compliant products with high cannabidiol (CBD) content even by non-holders of medical marijuana recognition cards, such as any of the following:
Cannabis concentrates with a maximum of 2% THC and a minimum of 25 times more CBD by weight
Edible cannabis products with a maximum of 2% THC and a minimum of five times more CBD by weight or volume
Topical cannabis products with a minimum of five times more CBD than THC content
Note: Cannabis meant for smoking is excluded
Cannabis delivery to consumers is not legal in Thurston County and elsewhere in Washington State. RCW 69.50.382 allows only the transport of cannabis plants, seeds, concentrates, and products between licensed cannabis producers, processors, retailers, or researchers.
Registration in the Medical Cannabis Authorization Database is necessary to get a medical marijuana recognition card in Thurston County. Patients must first acquire a medical marijuana authorization form from their healthcare practitioner. The physician will certify if they have any of the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana treatment, as follows:
Spasticity or seizure disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Chronic renal failure requiring hemodialysis
Traumatic brain injury
Crohn's disease with debilitating symptoms
Hepatitis C with intractable pain or debilitating nausea
Any disease resulting in vomiting, nausea, appetite loss, wasting, cramping, spasms, seizures, or spasticity
The patient must take the authorization form to the certified medical cannabis consultant in one of the medically endorsed retail cannabis stores. The consultant will verify the patient’s information and authorization and take a photo of the patient and the designated provider, if applicable. The consultant will then upload the data and photos to the Medical Cannabis Authorization Database and print out and laminate the medical marijuana cards. A $1 fee is required from the patient and designated provider. This will be forwarded by the licensed retailer to the Washington State Department of Health. The authorization form is returned to the patient.
For more information or queries, the public may reach out to the state’s Department of health through the following:
In addition to licensing fees imposed on the various types of cannabis businesses in Washington State, a 37% cannabis excise tax is imposed on all cannabis sales, including cannabis and cannabis products that are exempt from retail sales and use taxes, and funds are sent to the WSLCB. RCW 69.50.540 mandates that these funds are allotted for state expenditures.
Sales of cannabis by retail in Thurston County increased from $5,887.90 in 2015 to $62,866.94 in 2020. Statewide, total cannabis sales from producers, processors, and retailers increased from about $260 million in 2015 to over $2 billion in 2020. From these, excise taxes increased by 623% to $468.5 million in 2020 from $64.9 million in 2015.
Data from the WSLCB Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2021 shows that revenue from cannabis taxes, license fees, and penalties increased from about $474 million in 2020 to about $559.5 million in 2021. As reported by the Washington State Treasurer, the funds were allocated as follows, based on RCW 69.50.540:
Basic Health: $272 million
General Fund: $191 million
Washington State Health Care Authority: $54 million
Local Governments: $15 million
Washington State Department of Health: $9.7 million
Washington State Patrol: $2.3 million
Others: $1.8 million
Medical cannabis was first legalized in Washington State and Thurston County in 1998 while recreational cannabis was legalized in 2012. According to data reported by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page, in 1997, there were 279 arrests for drug abuse violations in the county, of which 101 were for marijuana possession and 19 were for marijuana manufacturing or sales. This decreased to nine arrests for drug abuse violations in 2021, of which one was for marijuana manufacturing or sales.
There were 193 DUI arrests in 1997. This decreased to 116 DUI arrests in 2021.