As one of the first states to fully legalize marijuana, Washington may seem like a liberal paradise for those who enjoy imbibing. But, “full legalization” doesn’t mean that anything goes. In fact, Washington’s marijuana laws create a system of small-time freedom backed by a large amount of oversight. Here are the dos and don’ts of recreational marijuana use in Washington, and what you should consider if you’re accused of unlawful use.
What’s Legal in Washington?
Possession and use of marijuana in its various forms has been decriminalized—to an extent. As with alcohol, marijuana users must be 21 or older. And even among this group, users must abide by quotas. Your possession is limited to:
- Up to 7 grams (1/4 oz.) of cannabis concentrate
- Up to 1 oz. of marijuana in plant form
- Up to 16 oz. of edibles
- Up to 72 oz. of liquid THC/tincture of cannabis
Marijuana must be purchased at licensed locations, and Washington residents are not allowed to grow their own marijuana in any amount. The law also limits consumption; you cannot use, or even open, marijuana products in public. DUI laws have been expanded to cover marijuana use as well, so no marijuana products may be carried in the cab of, or used in, the car.
Strict Penalties for Breaking Marijuana Law
If you run afoul of Washington’s law, you may find yourself facing punishment anywhere from a small $100 fine to a felony charge and fines of up to $20,000. Anyone in this situation needs to find a legal defender—and quickly. A skilled drug crimes lawyer can help you contest evidence, negotiate for deferred sentencing to keep your record clean, or advise you on cutting a plea deal with the state.
Here are some common marijuana offenses:
- Public use of marijuana products of any type or legal amount will not result in criminal charges but could lead to fines of up to $100.
- Possession (for personal use) of 1 oz – 40g (~1.4 oz) is a misdemeanor that can lead to sentences of up to 90 days and fines of up to $1,000.
- Possession (for personal use) of more than 40g is a felony that can lead to up to 5 years in jail and $10,000 in fines.
- Possession with intent to distribute is a felony that may be punished by up to 5 years in jail and $10,000 in fines.
- Growing your own marijuana, no matter the amount, is a felony; you face up to 5 years in jail and $10,000 in fines.
Even seemingly minor infringements can lead to a felony charge—which is the last thing you want on your permanent record.
Because marijuana/THC has been implicated in a spate of nationwide vaping deaths, Washington governor Jay Inslee has asked the Department of Health to ban flavored vaping products, and requested that the Liquor and Cannabis board ban any substances linked to vape user illness or death. No one can say how this will affect recreational marijuana laws, but at least these bans will depend on vendor, not user, adherence.
Charged with a Marijuana Violation?
Depending on your circumstances, facing a marijuana charge could lead to a life-changing criminal conviction. Before you go to court, find a team that can help fight your case. Our attorneys at Hester Law Group have over 150 years of experience fighting for clients in criminal court. We will help defend your rights, explain your options, and provide the aggressive representation you’re entitled to.
Contact us online or call (253) 300-3034 for a free consultation today.