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Recreational Marijuana in Washington State - A Guide for Visitors


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 for pot possession and use, as well as many practical details to be worked out about how the law will actually be implemented.

Washington State's Initiative 502 (I-502), which decriminalizes recreational marijuana, was voted into law in November 2012. The new law allows the creation of a licensed and regulated system of marijuana production and distribution, similar to the state's liquor controls. 

Note: 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. Marijuana use is also prohibited by most employers.

Here are some things Washington State visitors should know to stay on the right side of state law regarding recreational marijuana.

Where can I buy pot in Washington State?

Cavan Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

A few licensed retail marijuana shops are now open for business, with more to open in the coming weeks. These shops are devoted only to marijuana and marijuana products and will not sell anything else. 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.

Here are some resources to help you find a licensed Washington State cannabis shop:

  • Leafly Store Finder
    Not only does Leafly provide an interactive map to current marijuana retailers, they provide detailed information about the different strains of weed as well as a nice primer on pot products and use.
  • Issued Retail Licenses
    A list of all the stores currently licensed to sell recreational marijuana by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, including names, addresses, and phone numbers.

Where can I smoke pot in Washington State

Marijuana Cigarette
(source: iStockphoto)

The short answers is - on private property outside the view of the general public.

More details on where you can and can't smoke marijuana or consume marijuana products in Washington State.

How much pot can I possess in Washington State?

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 useable marijuana
  • Marijuana-related paraphernalia
  • 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused product
  • 72 ounces of liquid marijuana-infused product

What is "useable marijuana"?

According to I-502, "usable marijuana" refers to the dried marijuana flowers.

What is a "marijuana-infused product"?

According to I-502, these are "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. Vaporizers, also referred to as vape pens or vapor inhalers, have become popular "smokeless" ways to consume marijuana, but still require "useable marijuana".

What remains illegal in Washington State, both now and in the future?

Even after I-502 is fully implemented, the following will continue to be illegal under the Washington State recreational marijuana law:

  • Possession of amounts above the defined limit
  • Possession by a person under the age of 21 years
  • Use in view of the general public, including the opening and/or consumption of a marijuana-infused product
  • Transportation of marijuana products to another state
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana
  • Production or sale without a state license

Washington State visitors should be aware that pot use and possession remains a criminal act on federal lands, which includes the national parks and national forests. 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.

More about pot in Washington State

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington State is very much a social experiment. Practical details will be worked out over time. Here are some resources where you can gain some insight into the many complicated issues.

Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle
A "practical guide" to what you currently can and cannot do as I-502 is being implemented, from the Seattle Police Department.

Selling Recreational Marijuana
Individuals interested in producing, distributing, or selling marijuana products in Washington State are subject to strict controls, the details of which are still being worked out and are available through the Washington State Liquor Control Board website.

What about medical marijuana in Washington State?

Medical cannabis is addressed separately in Washington State law - you can find out more at the Washington State Department of Health website.

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