If you are wondering about the current marijuana possession laws in Seattle, you’re far from alone. First of all, there are laws in Seattle. Then there are laws in Washington state, and they seem to contradict each other. The question is, whom you should believe.
What’s more, a lot of the information you can find online is not dated, so it’s hard to know what’s what, at least if you do your research online. If you really want to know, just call an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
The worst part is, the laws keep changing, rapidly. That’s what makes it so hard to determine what the current legal situation is. At least, there is some good news as well. The latest Washington state law has gotten more lenient, and it’s set to expire next year. Of course, nobody knows what will happen then.
But in the meantime, it appears that, at least in Seattle, possessing an ounce of marijuana that you purchased at a licensed store is pretty safe, as long as you consume it at home.
Cannabis Is Big Business in Seattle
Clearly, everything cannabis and marijuana is big business in downtown Seattle, at least according to news in the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog this September. The article announces a new addition to the city’s pot shops: the Forbidden Cannabis Club.
So clearly, it is legal to buy marijuana in Seattle. However, you can only buy one ounce at a time, and can only have one ounce in your possession if you want to stay on the good side of the law. In addition, you have to be at least 21 in order to buy and possess marijuana.
And this comes along as the city just passed legislation that will make the marijuana business more equitable, providing a new path to ownership for qualified entrepreneurs.
Marijuana Possession Laws in Washington State
Early in 2021, Washington state’s Supreme Court declared Washington’s drug possession law to be unconstitutional because it made simple possession a felony. But just four months later, the governor signed legislation that would recriminalize even possession. However, it would now be a misdemeanor.
However, there’s a difference. The law does indeed reestablish criminal penalties, but instead of getting jail time and fines, individuals are referred to a health evaluation and potential treatment for their first two violations. This will keep them out of jail and will spare them the criminal record.
After two years, on july 1, 2023, the criminal penalty provisions of the new law will disappear. This will leave the state free from a law that prohibits the possession of marijuana or cannabis. However, we don’t know what, if anything, they will come up with next.
History of Marijuana Laws in Washington
In 1912, Washington outlawed the possession as well as the sale of marijuana. However, in 1971, it made possession of small amounts a misdemeanor rather than a felony.
In 2012, it legalized recreational use, being one of the first states to do so. It was initiative 502 that made it legal to possess and use small amounts of the drug, at least for anyone over 21.
In the meantime, it was only legal to possess marijuana in small amounts, less than an ounce, for personal use in the privacy of your home. And you had to be over 21 to do it. Even a gram or two more, and you were guilty of a misdemeanor.
And if you had 40 grams or more, and note that this is less than an ounce and a half, you were committing a class C felony and could spend up to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. This means you have to be very, very careful if you plan on carrying marijuana.
For example, if you still have half an ounce in your pocket and you buy another ounce since you were in the neighborhood, you could be in big trouble if you get caught. In addition, selling and growing marijuana as well as smoking it in public are all illegal and can get you in serious legal difficulties.
Medical marijuana has a long history in the state of Washington. And it is now a solid part of the marijuana ecosystem. Not only are qualified patients allowed to purchase much more marijuana than regular adults. They are even allowed to grow their own plants, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
Normal adults may only purchase or possess one ounce of cannabis, sixteen ounces of cannabis-infused product in solid form, seventy-two ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form, or seven grams of concentrate, or up to one of each.
On the other hand, patients and designated caregivers who are in the medical marijuana database and are called recognition card holders, are legally allowed to purchase three times the quantity that normal adults may purchase and, of course, possess three times the quantity as well, plus they don’t have to pay any sales tax.
In addition, recognition card holders are also allowed to grow their very own marijuana, either at home, or as a member of a cooperative. As part of this, they may grow six plants for personal use. They are also allowed to have eight ounces of usable marijuana they derived from their plants.
And if their health care provider feels that the patient needs more, they get to grow up to 15 plants and have twice the amount of usable marijuana.
What to Do If You Get Caught With Too Much Marijuana?
If you find yourself charged with having too much marijuana in your possession, or maybe smoking a joint in public, contact an experienced drug crimes attorney immediately. Don’t try to tough it out and go it alone. It won’t work. Instead, get the help you need right away so you can do damage control, also known as suppression. Call us today for a free consultation. We will be happy to help you.