stub The Legal Status of Cannabis in Washington -
Connect with us

State Regulations

The Legal Status of Cannabis in Washington

Updated on

Washington State has legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational use. Medical cannabis was legalized in the state in 1998, soon after California opened the medical marijuana scene in the U.S in 1996. In 2012, Washington became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis and kick off recreational sales.

The Washington medical cannabis program is designed to help patients who are suffering from terminal, chronic, or debilitating medical conditions. These health conditions would have a negative result on the activities of their daily living as well as their self-care.

The qualifying health conditions specified under the Washington medical cannabis program include:

  • Cancer
  • HIV
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Epilepsy or any other seizure disorder
  • Spasticity disorders
  • Intractable pain
  • Glaucoma, “either acute or chronic which is unrelieved by standard treatments and medications”
  • Crohn’s disease is accompanied by debilitating symptoms
  • Hepatitis C that companied by debilitating nausea
  • Chronic renal failure that requires hemodialysis
  • PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • TBI (Traumatic brain injury)

Patients residing in this state who have been diagnosed with terminal illness have the option of accessing medical cannabis as well as concentrates through “compassionate care provisions”. This is however at the patients’ and supervising physician’s or practitioner’s discretion.

The variety of cannabis products available for medical marijuana use include:

  • CBD
  • THC vaporizing oils
  • Flower
  • Concentrates
  • Edible CBD products
  • Extracts
  • Topicals (creams and oils)
  • Tinctures
  • Pre-rolls

The law allows adults 21 years and over to carry 1 oz. (or 28 g), and requires distributors, sellers, and growers to get licensed. Home growing of cannabis is prohibited unless for medical use.

Legalization of Recreational use of Cannabis in Washington

Washington was the first state to make recreational cannabis legal and allow the sale of it, which was just 5 days before Colorado. Cannabis was legalized by the Washington Initiative 502 in December 2012.

Cannabis in Washington cites a number of legal, legislative, and cultural events around the usage of cannabis in its different forms.

The Cannabis Black market in Washington

Cannabis was easily available in the state of Washington long before the establishment of retail stores and growers licensed by the state. A lot of the supply that got to the state came from Mexico or the neighboring “Canadian province of British Columbia”. In its own right, it ranked in the top five states with the highest incidence of indoor-grown cannabis in the United States.

With the amped-up security at “The United States–Mexico border” partially occasioned by the 2011 September 11 attack, Mexican cartels started directly growing cannabis in the United States rather than importing it. They utilized Eastern Washington for its favorable climate and established large outdoor cultivation operations based covertly in remote tribal reservations and national parks. In the period around 2010 appx. 82,000 plants got seized from tribal lands, which were just one-quarter of the loot seized that year. During this clandestine growing, significant damage was done to the environment due to the clearing of trees, diversion of rivers, use of pesticides plus human waste, and litter left behind.

Despite the state regulating the marijuana industry beginning in 2014, this unlicensed production continued. A drug bust organized in 2017 by several counties resulted in the seizure of more than 33,000 cannabis plants whose biggest likely culprit were Chine nationals running a growing operation that was illegal.

State-licensed Cannabis Businesses

Washington's legal marijuana industry runs under the regulation of the Liquor and Cannabis Board (formerly known as the Washington State Liquor Control Board). Separate business licenses are offered by the state to cannabis retailers, growers, and processors. One can hold a grower and processor license simultaneously but this sector is shut off from retailers. For their part, growers are restricted from selling their produce directly to consumers and are only allowed to sell to retailers or processors.

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.