When it comes to being progressive on marijuana, the West Coast truly is the BEST coast with California, Oregon, and Washington all having been amongst the first four states to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. Today’s blog will walk you through the latest marijuana in Washington news.
Background on the Legalization of Medical and Recreational Cannabis in Washington
All the way back in 1998, Washington state passed the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, aka “Initiative 692” or “I-692,” allowing adults 21 and older to legally use marijuana for medical purposes. Then, in 2012, 55% of Washington voters passed the Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Initiative, aka “Initiative 502” or “I-502,” making Washington the second state in the country to legalize recreational use and possession of cannabis for adults 21+. This initiative also put the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSCLB) in charge of overseeing all of the licensing and regulation of marijuana in the state. I-502 went into effect in December 2013, and the first legal sales of cannabis happened on July 8, 2014.
In the years since Washington has been amending and tweaking its medical and recreational marijuana laws. Even though this state helped pave the way for legalization, Washington still has some rather archaic and seemingly-contradictory cannabis-related laws that have yet to be fixed. For example, it is still a felony in Washington for an unlicensed individual to grow a few plants at home. Whereas, medical marijuana patients can grow some plants if they are registered and qualified–more on this in the section below. As such, even now there are several new initiatives, etc. being drafted and brought before state lawmakers so as to continue to smooth out the wrinkles that still exist.
Current Laws on Possession and Cultivation for Recreational and Medical Users
As of now, here is where things stand with recreational and medical cannabis usage, distribution, growing, and so on. Medical users who are registered in the state’s voluntary patient database are allowed to possess 3 ounces of loose flowers, 48 ounces of cannabis-infused products in solid form, and 216 ounces in liquid form, or 21 grams of concentrates. For medical patients who are in the aforementioned database, they can grow up to six plants in their private residence with a total of 8 ounces of harvest collected from their plants. However, per the recommendation of a professional health care provider, they may be allowed to cultivate up to 16 plants with a total yield of 16 ounces.
If a qualified patient is not in this medical marijuana patient database they can only grow up to 4 plants with a total amassed yield of 6 ounces. For recreational users, the WSCLB treats the sales and usage of weed as akin to that of alcohol and cigarettes. At this time, users must be 21+ to buy, use, or possess marijuana, and may only have 1 ounce of cannabis, 7 grams of concentrates, 16 ounces of a cannabis-infused product in solid form, or 72 ounces in liquid form. Weed may only be purchased from state-licensed dispensaries, and cultivating weed at home currently remains illegal for recreational users. In regards to consumption, weed may only be used on private property, and it is still illegal to use it in public.
Recent Laws and Bills on Marijuana in Washington
Listed below are just a few laws that have either recently been passed or are still in legislation in regards to recreational and medical marijuana in Washington.
- 2SHB 1210 — This law, which was to go into effect on June 9, 2022, states that all references to “marijuana” in various state laws be replaced with “cannabis.”
- HB 1443 — This law, which makes it possible for those who have been charged with misdemeanors or a felony to be able to apply for a license to grow, process, and/or sell marijuana, went into effect in October of 2021. Basically, the purpose of this law was for those who were arrested for cannabis, more specifically Black and POC folk who were disproportionately targeted pre-legalization, to not be automatically disqualified from even being considered by the WSCLB for a license.
- HB 1019 — At this moment HB 1019 is still tied up in bureaucratic red tape, but if it is passed, it will allow for the cultivation of cannabis for recreational use in private residences.
- SB 5517 — This bill, which would basically make it illegal for employers, who are not bound by federal law due to licensing or monetary reasons, to refuse to hire an individual due to the presence of cannabis in a drug test, appears to still be stuck in bureaucratic red tape.
As you can see, weed being legal isn’t just a simple one-and-done affair. It takes time for all the pre-existing kinks to be exposed and ironed out. Marijuana in Washington has been and continues to re-examine and reshape its laws as the cannabis industry continues to evolve and grow in the state. As recent presidential elections have demonstrated, the only way to effect change is for you to fully exercise your voting power. As such, when things appear on your ballot make sure to vote, and as a constituent, it is your right to let your local lawmakers know that you want bills like HB 1019 and SB 5517 passed.
Written By Kim Thompson
Along with being an award-winning creative and literary writer, Kim works as a freelance copywriter, editor, and proofreader both domestically and internationally. To find out more about Kim and her work, go to: eyerightwords.com
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