Recreational Marijuana in Washington State
TripSavvy / Rob Hadley
Washington visitors interested in using marijuana products should be aware of the details of the law regarding purchase, possession, and consumption. There are still significant restrictions on pot possession and use, as well as many practical details to be worked out about how the law will actually be implemented as many of Washington’s weed tourism services, are still being developed.
Washington State’s Initiative 502 (I-502), which decriminalizes recreational marijuana, was voted into law in November 2012. The law allows the creation of a licensed and regulated system of marijuana production and distribution, similar to the state’s liquor controls. However, I-502 does not preempt federal law. The production, distribution, sale, possession, and use of marijuana is still against and may be prosecuted under US federal law, and marijuana use is prohibited by many employers.
Keep in mind that in order to legally consume marijuana, you must be at least 21 years old. Here are some things Washington State visitors should know to stay on the right side of state law regarding recreational marijuana.
Buying Legally: Dispensaries and Shops
A few licensed retail marijuana shops are now open for business, with more opening all the time. These shops are devoted only to marijuana and marijuana products and will not sell anything else, but cannabis sampling or consumption is not allowed on the premises. Liquor stores, convenience stores, and other existing businesses will not be allowed to add pot products to their offerings.
If you’re looking for a dispensary, the easiest way to do so is to use the Leafly Store Finder app, which provides an interactive map to current marijuana retailers with detailed information about the various strains available in the shop. You can also check out the Washington State Liquor Control Board’s list of Issued Retail Licenses, which has the information for all marijuana license applicants, including the names, addresses, and phone numbers of active and pending retailers.
Where to Smoke: Private Property
When it comes time to actually consume your marijuana products, there are few places you’re legally allowed to do so in Washington State, despite the law allowing you to buy, possess, and use it. City and state laws prohibit use in the view of the public, so your best bet is to smoke on private property.
What this means, typically, is that you have to be in someone’s private residence and have permission to smoke. However, if you find yourself in a hotel that allows smoking in the rooms, you are legally allowed to smoke marijuana there.
How Much You Can Buy: Legal Quantities
If you are 21 years of age or older in Washington State, you will not be prosecuted under state law for the possession or use of:
- One ounce of usable marijuana
- Marijuana-related paraphernalia
- 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused product
- 72 ounces of liquid marijuana-infused product
- 7 grams of marijuana concentrate
Legal Terminology: Usable and Marijuana-Infused Products
When it comes to keeping track of your quantities, keep in mind that “usable marijuana,” “marijuana-infused product,” and “marijuana concentrate are all separate things.
According to I-502, “usable marijuana” refers to the dried marijuana flowers. Vaporizers also referred to as vape pens or vapor inhalers, have become popular “smokeless” ways to consume marijuana but still require “useable marijuana.”
On the other hand, marijuana-infused products (both solid and liquid) are defined by I-502 as “products that contain marijuana or marijuana extracts and are intended for human use.” This could include things that you eat or drink, like baked goods, candy, or sodas. The Washington State Liquor Control Board maintains a list of the weed-infused products that are currently approved.
Whether you're a weed tourist or just curious about the legality of pot in the state, this guide will help you understand marijuana laws in Washington.
LEARN | LAWS & REGULATIONS
Is Weed Legal in Washington?
Yes. Under current Washington state marijuana laws , weed is both medically and recreationally legal for patients and adults ages 21 and older to possess and use.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Washington with Initiative 692 (I-692), or the Medical Use of Marijuana Act of 1998, which passed with nearly 60% of the vote. The initiative permitted patients with certain debilitating conditions, terminal illnesses, or intractable pain, to use medical marijuana. I-692 also granted legal protections to qualifying patients and their caregivers for the possession and consumption of medical marijuana.
Initiative 502 (I-502), the Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Initiative, was passed by voters on the statewide 2012 ballot with 55% of the vote. Under I-502 laws and regulations, the state legalized marijuana use and possession for adults 21 and older, and established a regulatory structure for the state’s cannabis industry, creating a framework for the production and sale of adult-use marijuana.
Before I-502, cannabis distribution, possession, or use for adult-use purposes was illegal in Washington. The initiative went into effect Dec. 6, 2012, exactly 30 days after its passage and well in advance of the Dec. 1, 2013 requirement.
Shortly after the state legalized recreational cannabis in 2015, the Washington Legislature passed SB 5052 , the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (CPPA), establishing official state regulations for local marijuana businesses , which entails the production, possession, sale, and use of medical marijuana.
I-502 legalized adult-use marijuana production, distribution, possession, and consumption throughout Washington. All licensing and regulation of marijuana falls under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) .
Where is it Safe to Purchase?
Under current Washington state marijuana laws , adult-use cannabis may be legally purchased only from a state-licensed retailer. Patients and caregivers may also purchase medical cannabis from any state-licensed retailer. Tribal ID cards are valid as identification if they meet the rules laid out by the WSLCB. According to the board’s website , tribal enrollment cards may only be used if the following requirements are met:
- The Tribe has notified the Board that it intends to use the ID card to purchase marijuana
- The enrollment card has a photo, a signature, and a date of birth
- The enrollment card has security features comparable to state Driver’s License.
There is a Washington state marijuana tax for retail consumers. Under state law, all retail marijuana sales are subject to a 37% excise tax, in addition to regular state and local sales tax. Medical patients are not subject to the excise tax or retail sales tax.
Where is it Safe to Consume?
It remains illegal to consume marijuana or marijuana-infused products in public view. Cannabis cannot be consumed wherever tobacco smoking is prohibited.
Under Washington state recreational marijuana laws , adults 21 and older can purchase in a single day up to :
- 1 ounce, or 28.35 grams, of usable marijuana
- 16 ounces, or 454 grams, of cannabis-infused edibles in solid form;
- 72 fluid ounces , or 2.13 liters, of cannabis in liquid form, and;
- 7 grams, or a quarter-ounce (0.25 oz), of cannabis concentrates.
Medical marijuana patients may purchase and possess up to:
- 3 ounces of marijuana , or 85 grams;
- 48 ounces, or 1.36 kilograms of marijuana-infused products in solid form;
- 1.69 gallons, or 6.4 liters of marijuana-infused products in liquid form, or;
- 21 grams of marijuana concentrate.
Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal and consumption in a vehicle is neither allowed for drivers nor for passengers. Consumers can carry cannabis in their vehicles, but it must be in a sealed container or in the trunk. However, it is illegal to transport any open package or container of cannabis or marijuana-infused products.
It remains illegal to transport cannabis from across state lines. Washington stipulates that more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood is the limit for driving, and a blood test can be performed at a police station or a medical facility. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. The state advises waiting at least 5 hours after inhalation to drive, and longer after consuming edibles.
Cultivation of adult-use cannabis on private property for personal use remains illegal . However, medical patients can cultivate six plants and have 8 ounces of usable marijuana in the home. A health-care practitioner may authorize patients to have up to 15 plants or up to 16 ounces, or 454 grams, of usable marijuana produced from their plants.
View the cannabis laws & regulations for Washington.