With the passing of Initiative 502, Washington joins Colorado as one of only two states to (currently) allow recreational marijuana use. While this has been viewed with much joy by the smokers and tokers of the Evergreen State, it still leaves some aspects of the herb subject to legal action, so before you get too reckless with the now-legal drug, be aware of the law when it comes to marijuana.
Marijuana DUI Charges
While most of us associate DUI with driving after having one too many drinks, every state has a charge for drug-related DUI on the books, and Washington is no exception. The legalization of pot did not remove the penalties for driving under the influence of it. In fact, the new statutes may actually make you more likely to get a DUI from marijuana usage than before it was legalized. This is because of the new blood-level limits for acceptable THC intake, levels that many people feel are far too strict and don’t accurately reflect whether a driver was actually impaired or not. Because THC stays in the bloodstream much longer than alcohol, and very low levels are considered impairment under the new DUI statute, the risks of even light marijuana usage triggering a criminal record of DUI are bigger than they were prior to legalization. For a more thorough understanding of the updated marijuana and driving laws, you should refer to this excellent Washington Marijuana DUI guide for more details.
Selling Marijuana in Washington
Even though marijuana is now legal to possess and consume within Washington’s borders, you still cannot sell it to someone else without risking significant criminal charges. Marijuana represents a serious source of revenue to Washington’s tax coffers, and the potential income and savings from the enforcement side, and was directly responsible for eventual approval and legalization. It would be naive to think a person could sell marijuana without paying the appropriate taxes to the government. Recreational marijuana is subject to a 25% tax at three different levels.
It is legal now for any adult in the state of Washington to possess or have in their possession marijuana for personal use. It is still illegal to possess as a minor, and strict rules remain about adults providing marijuana to children. There also remain certain rules about using marijuana in public, it is still prohibited for use in public parks, public buildings, and most commercial establishments. Usage by adults in private homes has been decriminalized.
The preceding information is not intended to be professional legal advice about any aspect of Washington marijuana laws. While the information is presumed correct, Washington marijuana law is a new and evolving area of law, with significant criminal and civil penalties to those who violate these laws. If you need additional up-to-date information about Initiative 502 or the current state of the law, consult with an experienced Washington marijuana defense attorney today.
11/5 Update: Voters in neighboring Oregon have just passed marijuana legalization in the mid-term elections with the passage of Measure 91. Recreational use by adults is expected to take effect by July 1st, with oversight handled by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.