This article discusses the limitations on legal marijuana use in the state of Washington.

In November 2012, the state of Washington legalized recreational marijuana use and possession after passing Initiative 502. The new law took effect December of last year.

If asked, many people would likely say that using marijuana for recreation is now legal in the state of Washington. But what exactly does this mean?

Understanding the limits and margins of the new law — particularly the remaining ban under federal law — is vital for users so criminal prosecution can be avoided.

Below is a list of the top five limitations of the law regarding recreational marijuana use and possession in the state of Washington users should take note of.

Top Five Limitations

1. The new law only applies to individuals 21 years of age and older. It still remains illegal for minors to use and possess marijuana for recreational purposes in Washington.

2. The law only allows individuals to legally use and possess up to one ounce or less of “usable marijuana,” or dried marijuana leaves. Individuals will face a fine and possible jail time if caught with any amount over an ounce.

3. Individuals can legally use and possess up to 16 ounces of a solid marijuana-infused product and 72 ounces of a liquid marijuana-infused product.

4. Marijuana is only authorized for legal use in private settings. Individuals found with the product in public — even just an ounce or less — will face potential jail time and a minimum $100 fine.

5. Driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal in the state of Washington. Drivers caught with 5 or more nanograms of active THC per milliliter in their blood will face DUI penalties. (It doesn’t matter whether the pot was consumed days prior to the drive. Washington still allows police to charge motorists with a DUI simply for having the drug in the body at the time of the stop.)

Recreational Pot Use And Possession Under Federal Law

It’s also important to understand that pot use and possession in any amount remains illegal under federal law.

Individuals should understand that if they travel on federal lands like national parks and forests within Washington state with any trace of marijuana (even if it’s the legal amount under Washington law), they can still face strict drug charges under federal law.

Because of the fairly recent execution of the new law, there are plenty of logistics that still need to be finalized. Individuals are advised to use caution until there is full implementation of the law. Drug arrests and convictions can impact an individual’s life substantially. Those presently facing drug charges are encouraged to consult with a criminal defense attorney who can offer advice on the particulars of Washington’s law and its application to individual circumstances.

Keywords: legalized pot, marijuana, Washington

Green Ritchie & Bogar, PLLC