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Marijuana in Washington state: where, when, and how much?

Washington stores opened their doors on Tuesday to sell cannabis legally for the first time. Here’s what you need to know

The price of two grams of a strain of marijuana named ‘Sweet Lafayette’ is displayed at Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham, Washington. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP

The price of two grams of a strain of marijuana named ‘Sweet Lafayette’ is displayed at Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham, Washington. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP

Last modified on Sat 6 Oct 2018 23.13 BST

A few Washington stores are opening their doors on Tuesday to sell recreational marijuana, legally, for the first time in the state. The Evergreen State joins Colorado as the only US states that allows the sale and possession of recreational marijuana.

Where can people legally buy marijuana in Washington?

The state’s liquor control board granted 25 retail marijuana licenses on Monday, but only six of those stores planned to open on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. Stores are suffering from the high demand but low supply of cannabis, which can only be acquired from state-certified growers.

Washington authorities capped the number of possible retail stores at 334, but the stores remain blocked in some local jurisdictions.

The state has granted so few licenses because it is overwhelmed by the demand for the permits. More than 7,000 people applied for marijuana licenses, inundating the 18 licensing investigators tasked with with reviewing marijuana growing license applications.

How much does a legal gram cost?

While some stores have said they will sell a gram from $10 to $12 – comparable to prices at unregulated dispensaries in the state – others anticipate selling marijuana at $20 a gram or more because of the low supply and high taxes, which are 25% wholesale and 25% at retail.

Do you have to be a Washington resident to buy from licensed dispensaries?

No, but you do have to be 21 or older. If you meet that requirement, you can purchase up to an ounce of dried marijuana, up to 7g of concentrated marijuana (like hash) and up to 16oz of pot-infused treats (like edibles). Edibles, however, must be approved by the state and no stores have been granted that approval yet.

Where can people consume cannabis?

Public consumption isn’t allowed in Washington – so smoking or ingesting edibles is prohibited on streets, in parks or other public places. It is legal in people’s homes, though apartment complexes and hotels can ban smoking, especially if the building already has anti-tobacco smoking laws. State authorities are considering legalizing the activity at specially created private-use clubs or other similar locations.

How did recreational marijuana become legal in Washington?

Washington residents voted in favor of the legalization initiative, I-502, in November 2012. It went into effect in December of that year, but lawmakers were given a year to establish the procedures and criteria necessary to implement the law.

Implementation of the law was also delayed because marijuana is still considered a narcotic by the federal government. As the government works to change drug policy, it has not shown much interest in interfering with the states’ laws, and in April, US attorney general Eric Holder said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the initiatives in Washington and Colorado.

Is this different from Colorado’s recreational marijuana law?

Yes, there are considerable differences between the two states’ laws. One key difference is that Colorado licenses permit people to grow and sell marijuana while Washington separates the activities. Also, only people with licenses can grow marijuana in Washington, while Colorado allows residents to home grow pot.

What other states are expected to legalize recreational marijuana?

An initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Alaska is set to appear on the state ballot in November, though it was originally to be voted on in August. The proposal would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 1oz of marijuana and to grow as many as six cannabis plants for personal consumption, as well as set up foundations for creating commercial marijuana sales in the state.

Campaigners are focusing on getting initiatives on state ballots in the 2016 election, especially in states that have demonstrated openness to legalization, such as Nevada and California, which was the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana and has also decriminalized marijuana. In December, state attorney general Kamala Harris said that legalization would save the state millions of dollars annually.

New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo signed a medical marijuana bill into law on Monday, though he is cagey about full legalization.

Washington DC is also considering legalization, but because it isn’t a state, any initiatives are up for congressional review. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill decriminalizing possession up to one ounce, but House Republicans have blocked funding for the bill.

<p>Washington stores opened their doors on Tuesday to sell cannabis legally for the first time. Here's what you need to know</p>

Washington Marijuana FAQ’s

Is marijuana legal in Washington?

Yes, individuals 18 years and older can possess a medical marijuana card, while those without a card must be 21 years or older to legally purchase or possess recreational cannabis. Medical marijuana cards are for Washington residents only.

What is the difference between medical and retail marijuana in Washington?

In the state of Washington, purchasing medical marijuana requires a state medical license, which is only available to Washington residents with an official written consent by a doctor. Medical marijuana patients can purchase marijuana from a primary caregiver, from a licensed dispensary or grow their own.

Additionally, recreational marijuana is available to residents and non-residents of Washington, who are 21 years old and older.

Can I get my medical marijuana card if I’m not a Washington resident?

Unfortunately, no. Medical marijuana cards are for Washington residents only.

Where can I purchase cannabis in Washington?

As of July 1, 2016, all marijuana businesses were required to be licensed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, effectively closing down medical dispensaries. Medical marijuana dispensaries were given the chance to reapply for recreational licenses with endorsements to dispense medical cannabis to registered medical cardholders.

If you have a medical marijuana card, you are able to purchase three times the recreational limit and purchase your product from recreational locations tax-free.

How much marijuana can I buy in Washington?

Any adult 21 years and older is allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis flower, seven grams of concentrates, 16 ounces of cannabis-infused edibles or 72 ounces of liquid cannabis product like tinctures.

What types of marijuana are available in Washington?

There are a variety of different types of marijuana to purchase including numerous strains of flower or bud, hash, oil, edibles (candy and baked goods), drinks and more.

Always be sure to talk to your budtender about the type of marijuana that you are purchasing as different types result in different effects including energizing, head highs or full body, sedative highs.

Can I smoke marijuana in public in Washington?

No, you cannot. The laws in Washington state that consumption of cannabis is restricted to private areas only. Note that you can get a civil penalty of $100 — or a $27 fine for public consumption in Seattle, specifically. Needless to say, because this is a very large grey area right now, please use discretion when consuming.

Can I travel with marijuana from Washington to another state or country?

No. Traveling with cannabis over state lines is 100% illegal.

What are the consequences for breaking marijuana laws in Washington?

There are numerous penalties that could be implemented if you break the law, ranging from monetary fines to community service and jail time

Common questions and answers about marijuana in Washington.