Washington's Medical Marijuana Laws

Recreational and medical marijuana use is legal in Washington, though state law establishes specific amounts of possession for each type of use. For instance, those who have a medical need for cannabis can cultivate a certain amount in their home, provided they have the proper registration as an authorized patient. Keep reading this blog to learn more about qualifying for Washington’s medical marijuana program and what possession allowances this would include for patients.

Qualifying for the Medical Marijuana Program

Washington’s Cannabis Patient Protection Act integrates the medical market with the regulated recreational market. Under the act, the Department of Health established rules for a medical marijuana authorization database and the training and certification methods of medical marijuana consultants.

Current medical marijuana regulations in the state define a qualifying patient as someone who is a Washington resident, has been diagnosed with a qualifying condition, and has a medical marijuana authorization from their health care practitioner. Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana include:

  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Intractable pain
  • Persistent muscle spasms, and/or spasticity
  • Nausea
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Seizures
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Any “terminal or debilitating condition”

Becoming an Authorized Patient

To become a medical marijuana patient in Washington, you must be a resident of the state under the care of a healthcare practitioner for your qualifying condition and follow the following process:

  • Step 1: Schedule an appointment with your health care practitioner.
  • Step 2: Obtain a medical marijuana authorization from your practitioner.
  • Step 3: Visit a medically-endorsed store to get a medical marijuana card.
  • Step 4: Use the card to purchase products with no sales tax.
  • Step 5: Repeat steps 1 - 4 to renew both your medical marijuana authorization and card before expiration.

The healthcare practitioners allowed in Washington to authorize the use of marijuana to medical patients are:

  • Medical doctor (MD)
  • Physician assistant (PA)
  • Osteopathic physician (DO)
  • Osteopathic physician assistant (DOA)
  • Naturopathic physician
  • Advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP)

Your healthcare practitioner will provide you a Medical Marijuana Authorization Form to authorize marijuana for medical purposes. All authorizations must be completed and signed by the patient's healthcare practitioner.

Note that the Department of Health doesn't request, receive, or retain authorization forms or register or issue medical marijuana recognition cards for patients; instead, patients should schedule an appointment with a Medical Marijuana Consultant at a medically-endorsed store to receive their medical marijuana card. Current regulations require a licensed marijuana retail store with a medical endorsement to have a certified medical marijuana consultant on staff, and the certified consultant may:

  • enter patient and designated provider information from the authorization form into the medical marijuana database and create the medical marijuana recognition card;
  • assist the patient with selecting products that may help with their qualifying condition;
  • describe risks and benefits of methods for using products;
  • give advice on ways to properly store products and keep them safe from children and pets;
  • show how to properly use products;
  • answer questions about the medical marijuana law.

Be aware that certified consultants may not:

  • provide medical advice;
  • diagnose any conditions;
  • recommend changing current treatment(s) in place of marijuana;
  • open and use actual products when demonstrating how to use.

Patient Possession and Cultivation

Those entered in the state’s patient database may possess:

  • 48 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form;
  • 3 ounces of useable marijuana;
  • 216 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form; or
  • 21 grams of marijuana concentrates.

In the case of home cultivation, patients entered in the state’s voluntary patient database may cultivate in their home up to 6 plants for personal medical use and possess up to 8 ounces of useable marijuana produced from their plants. If their health care professional determines that the medical needs of a qualifying patient exceed the amounts provided, the health care professional may specify on the authorization form that they recommend the patient be allowed to grow in their home up to 15 plants (yielding up to 16 ounces) of usable marijuana for the patient’s personal medical use.

If a qualifying patient has not been entered into the medical marijuana authorization database, they may still grow in their home up to 4 plants for personal medical use of the qualifying patient and possess up to 6 ounces of useable marijuana in their home.

Qualified medical marijuana patients and designated providers may purchase immature plants, clones, or seeds from a licensed producer. However, be aware that in order to purchase plants or clones the patients and providers must hold a recognition card and be entered in the medical marijuana authorization database.

Note that a designated provider is a person who has been designated in writing by a patient to serve as their designated provider. The caregiver must be 21 years of age or older and must also possess either authorization from the qualifying patient’s health care professional or be entered into an authorized database. The provider may only provide marijuana to the expressed patient.

More Questions About Possession? Contact Hester Law Group.

If you are interested in participating in Washington’s medical marijuana program or have questions about obtaining an authorized medical marijuana card, it is advisable to consult an experienced attorney if you fear the potential legal consequences. While marijuana is legalized for both medical and recreational use, there are still certain situations and possession amounts that can be punishable by law.

Do not hesitate to contact our firm at Hester Law Group for more information on medical marijuana qualification.