New legislation in Washington could permit adult residents to grow marijuana for personal use and possess larger amounts of usable marijuana.
Although recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, residents and visitors still face significant restrictions regarding use and possession of the substance. People in the state can face criminal charges for carrying too much marijuana or possessing it in certain areas. Growing marijuana at home is also against the law for most state residents. However, new legislation may change this final restriction and permit limited home growing.
In many states that have legalized marijuana, residents can legally grow the substance for personal use, according to KIRO TV. In Washington, however, legal growing is limited to commercial growers and people with medical permits. Other people may face fines and jail time for cultivating any amount of marijuana. People who grow amounts exceeding the legal limit of one ounce may also face drug possession charges.
These restrictions could be removed under two new bills that seek to legalize home marijuana growing for personal use. These bills would make the following changes:
- Adults over the age of 21 could legally grow up to six marijuana plants.
- A home grower could donate up to one ounce to another adult without facing charges of selling or distributing marijuana.
- Growers could possess up to eight ounces of usable marijuana, rather than the current limit of one ounce.
This legislation may not be voted on this year, since it was introduced relatively late in the legislative session. However, lawmakers have expressed support for the proposed changes, which means that similar initiatives may succeed in the future.
Potential legal complications
Even if this legislation passes, it will not guarantee blanket protection for home growers. Growing marijuana remains a crime at the federal level. As a recent case illustrates, people growing marijuana legally under Washington’s laws may still face criminal charges.
According to Fox News, three Washington medical marijuana patients were recently convicted of growing marijuana. The three patients had cards that permitted them to use marijuana medicinally, and they only grew the substance for personal use. In Washington, medical marijuana patients and their providers have an affirmative defense against marijuana-related charges. Despite this, the three were charged with violating federal law.
The patients ultimately were not convicted of dispensing marijuana, which carries much steeper potential consequences. Still, they could face jail times and heavy fines for cultivating the substance.
Defending against criminal charges
Despite legalization, possessing or growing marijuana can still introduce complications for Washington residents and visitors. Many people in the state may end up facing criminal charges, even if they have attempted to comply with state laws. Fortunately, in some cases there may be grounds for challenging these charges.
Anyone facing criminal charges related to marijuana should consider consulting with a criminal defense attorney. A defense attorney may be able to provide advice about a person’s rights and options, given current laws and recent precedents.