The availability of legal weed makes Washington State an even more popular tourist destination. As a result, several companies now offer vacation packages, weed-friendly accommodations, and cannabis tours to guide newcomers to the world of legal marijuana.
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.
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.
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.
Even after I-502 has fully been implemented, the following will continue to be illegal under the Washington State recreational marijuana law:
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.”
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.
Fortunately, there are some resources where you can gain some insight into the many complicated issues. For instance, the Seattle Police Department put out and routinely updates a “practical guide” to what you currently can and cannot do as I-502 is being implemented called “Marijwhatnow?”.
Washington State visitors should be aware that pot use and possession remains a criminal act on federal lands, which includes the national parks, national forests, and the public lakes. Tribal lands will also enforce their own policies regarding marijuana use and possession. Some cities have also chosen to outlaw pot-related businesses within their boundaries, so retail marijuana stores might not be readily available in some communities.
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.
Aren’t there supposed to be shortages?
T he first legal, recreational marijuana stores will open for business in Washington state Tuesday, making it the second state in the nation to allow pot to be bought and consumed more or less like alcohol. As Washington joins Colorado on America’s weed frontier, here’s what you need to know about the latest legal market:
Can you buy it at the gas station, like a pack of cigarettes?
You can find information about the first batch of stores, such as the Happy Crop Shoppe and the Bud Hut, here. Brian Smith, the Liquor Board’s director of communications, says the Board has tried to ensure a geographic range for the first stores, while also making sure to serve areas with the densest populations, like the Puget Sound corridor. But it’s still a work in progress. Seattle, the state’s largest city, has only one shop approved for opening day.
And how do you know which shops are licensed to sell weed?
No. Consumers can only buy pot in retail shops licensed by the state. Internet sales and delivery services are not allowed under the current rules. (Nor are “marijuana food trucks,” in case you were wondering.) And not every part of the state is on board: dozens of municipalities have banned or put moratoriums on pot sales.
As with alcohol, only those 21 and older can purchase recreational weed. Out of state residents are allowed to purchase pot, but it must be consumed in Washington. Marijuana remains illegal in neighboring states. And plan on paying with cash. While some legal establishments may be able to take debit cards, none can accept credit cards because of federal banking regulations.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board, the body tasked with implementing the nuts and bolts of the new marijuana market, issued licenses to 24 retail shops on July 7. Shops are allowed to open 24 hours after the owners finish the licensing process, so July 8 is the earliest possible day. Sales are generally allowed to take place between 8 a.m. and midnight.
When, exactly, are shops going to open?
A user's guide to the legal weed market in Washington