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Enforcing Recreational Marijuana FAQ

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about recreational marijuana law enforcement in Washington State. For more information on marijuana law, see Marijuana Regulation in Washington State.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can have marijuana, and how much?

Adults 21 years of age or older may legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form. See RCW 69.50.4013 and 69.50.360.

What marijuana-related conduct remains criminal under Washington law?

Possession of marijuana in amounts above the limits (see the previous question) remains criminal. Growing or selling marijuana without a license from the state remains criminal, except for qualifying patients or designated providers who grow or possess marijuana in accordance with the provisions of chapter 69.51A RCW . Additionally, RCW 46.61.502 provides a standard for driving under the influence of marijuana (above the threshold limit of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood).

What are the consequences of possession of over an ounce?

Possession by adults of over one ounce to 40 grams (about 1.5 ounces) results in a misdemeanor. Possession of more than 40 grams is a Class C Felony.

Where can you legally buy marijuana?

In Washington State marijuana and marijuana products may be legally purchased only at state-licensed marijuana retail stores.

What constitutes an infraction for marijuana?

It is a civil infraction to consume marijuana or to open a package of marijuana  in public. RCW 69.50.445 provides as follows:

It is unlawful to open a package containing marijuana, useable marijuana, or a marijuana-infused product, or consume marijuana, useable marijuana, or a marijuana-infused product, in view of the general public. A person who violates this section is guilty of a class 3 civil infraction under chapter 7.80 RCW.

Can law enforcement seize marijuana?

Yes, quantities of marijuana that exceed the allowed limits (see above) may be seized. If the quantity possessed is within the allowed limits, state level law enforcement cannot seize the marijuana and further searches of the person are not lawful.

If a law enforcement officer witnesses a person smoking what appears to be marijuana, can they then search that person?

The officer who witnesses the infraction can contact the person and issue the citation. Officers can initiate a search only if there is suspicion or indication that the person receiving the citation may be armed, or if that person gives the law enforcement officer indication they have criminal possession on their person.

Must law enforcement officers have warrants for blood tests?

If officers believe someone is driving under the influence and impaired, they will conduct a field sobriety test. If officers establish probable cause, they will ask for permission to draw blood, or they can obtain a warrant from a judge. As in the past, refusal to submit to a test carries mandatory license suspension penalties, and the refusal to take the test can be admitted into evidence in a prosecution for driving under the influence. In the case of a collision, blood draws are mandatory. The provisions and policies of a blood draw are not a new practice and were not changed by the initiative.

How does law enforcement obtain blood?

Officers must follow their agency's policy. Many take the person to the nearest hospital facility for the blood draw.

Can marijuana purchased legally in Washington be transported to other states?

No. Marijuana and marijuana products purchased in Washington are to be consumed in Washington State.

Is it possible that the Liquor and Cannabis Board will change or delete the prohibition on consumption of marijuana in plain view of the general public?

The Liquor and Cannabis Board does not have the authority to change that prohibition. Because that prohibition was enacted as Section 21 of Initiative 502, codified in RCW 69.50.445, only the legislature can make changes.

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Last Modified: December 17, 2019