Marijuana Laws in Washington


In 2012, Washington became the first state in the US to legalize recreational marijuana. It had previously legalized medical marijuana in 1998. The state is also one of the few to create a marijuana research bill, the 2016 Industrial Hemp Research Pilot. By the following year, 180 acres of marijuana had been planted for the purpose of research.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana first came to the forefront in Washington State in 1979. That year, the state’s courts recognized that there were certain benefits to marijuana use in the treatment of a small number of ailments, but it would take another 20 years before medical marijuana laws were passed.

Recreational Marijuana

After local communities, such as Seattle and Tacoma, starting softening their approach to marijuana, the state slowly opening up to the idea of accepting recreational marijuana use. A bill in 2012 was approved that allowed for its use, but restricted the cultivation, sales and gifting of marijuana. A year later, the state amended the laws to facilitate cultivation and sales.

Possession and Cultivation Limits

Possession is limited, as in other jurisdictions, to those 21 years old or older. They are allowed to buy as much as one ounce of usable marijuana, up to 16 ounces of infused edibles in solid form and 72 ounces in liquid form. Additionally, up to seven grams of marijuana concentrates are permitted. An exception to the limits is made for medical marijuana patients, who are allowed up to 24 ounces and up to 15 plants, provided they have a prescription from a physician.

Cultivation is still illegal. Private grow farms, dispensaries and processors are forbidden from growing their own, and can be fined up to $10,000, as well as being sentenced to up to five years in prison. Only licensed grow facilities are authorized and they must distribute to licensed dispensaries.


21 years is the legal age to be able to consume any form of marijuana. Those under 21 can be fined, have their license suspended or be sent to drug rehab if caught consuming. Adults over 21 who are found giving marijuana to minors can be fined and/or jailed.

Consumption is not allowed in any public place, including parks, transportation, schools, libraries, etc. It is permitted in private residences, provided there are no restrictions implemented by a homeowners association or other governing body.

Dispensary Regulations

Dispensaries must be marijuana-only businesses – a bookstore, for example, can not incorporate marijuana sales into its business plan. All dispensaries must request a license from the Washington State Liquor Control Board, as well as the requisite local business licenses in the jurisdiction where the business will be established.

Smoking Marijuana in Public

Adults over the age of 21 can buy and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana at a time. Only licensed retailers can sell marijuana products.


Cannabis DUI

As with other states, Washington has placed a limit on the amount of marijuana that can be found in the blood. If a test reveals over five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, the driver can face strict legal penalties. According to Washington law, refusing a test may result in automatic and immediate revocation of driving privileges.

Marijuana Taxes

All retail establishments are required to pay an excise tax of 37% on all sales related to marijuana, marijuana-infused prodcts, marijuana concentrates and useable marijuana.

Washington Marijuana News

Explore the latest cannabis news from Washington.

Puff and Bluff at Americas Cardroom

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