Is Weed Legal in Washington? WA Cannabis Laws (January 2023)

Illustration of Space Needle in Washington State
Written by Livvy Ashton | Last updated: January 3, 2023

This article is an overview of marijuana’s legal status in Washington. We break down each aspect of cannabis use, from possession to home cultivation, traveling, public consumption, and the future of cannabis legalization in Washington. You’ll also learn if hemp delta-8 products are legal there.

Similar to the other states on the West Coast, marijuana is legal for recreational and medical use in Washington.

The state has a long history with medical marijuana and has been one of the first states to legalize weed for adults aged 21 and up.

However, there are still many awkward laws in Washington that need to be rectified. For example, growing cannabis for personal use is still a felony for non-medical users.

Washington also doesn’t allow online marijuana delivery, although consumption lounges are drawing near thanks to a new bill that was introduced in 2020.

In this article, we provide a complete guide to marijuana laws in Washington.

Is Weed Legal in Washington?

Yes, weed is legal in Washington for medical and recreational use. The state created its medical marijuana program in 1998, and in 2012, it followed through with a framework for recreational sales.

Related: Which States Are Marijuana Legal In?

Is Recreational Marijuana Legal in Washington?

Yes. Recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012 when voters passed Initiative 502, the Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Initiative, 2012.

Adults 21 and older can legally purchase and possess up to one ounce of flower, 16 ounces of edibles, and seven grams of cannabis concentrates.

While possession has been legalized, the sale and distribution of any amount of marijuana without a license is a C-class felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Washington?

Yes. Medical marijuana has been legal in Washington since 1998. In 2015, SB 5052 created the Cannabis Patient Protection Act to ensure that medical marijuana patients are provided with products that meet the same standards of cultivation and testing as recreational users.

If you’re a medical marijuana patient, you can purchase up to three ounces of flower, 48 ounces of edibles, and 21 grams of cannabis concentrates.

Medical patients may also legally grow up to 15 plants for personal use.

Penalties for Marijuana Possession

Possession of more than one ounce but less than 40 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor, with penalties ranging between 24 hours and 90 days in prison on top of a $1,000 fine.

More than 40 g may lead to felony charges, 5 years in jail, and $10,000 in fines.

The same punishment applies to selling any amount of marijuana without a license. The penalty doubles if a person is trying to sell marijuana to minors at least 3 years younger.

Is Weed Decriminalized in Washington?

Yes. Possession of up to one ounce of weed has been decriminalized in Washington. You won’t even receive a ticket for such amounts.

What’s the Future of Cannabis Legalization in Washington?

Washington slacks with further cannabis reforms, which puts it behind other states like Colorado, California, or Illinois when it comes to growing the industry.

Ownership limitations, the lack of new licenses, and a five-store cap for retail stores have all suppressed Washington’s cannabis operations.

Those restrictions could deteriorate the state’s capacity for national competition if federal legalization takes effect.

Delta-8 THC: A Better and Legal Alternative to Marijuana in Washington

Marijuana buds in a cupcake liner

With a limited number of cannabis dispensaries in Washington and unfriendly cultivation rules, Washington isn’t the best recreational state to be in if you’re a weed aficionado.

As the boom on hemp-derived cannabinoids continues to roll across the USA, many people are wondering if delta-8 THC — the “cannabis light” or “diet weed” — is legal in Washington.

Before we elaborate on that, let’s focus on why delta-8 THC has suddenly become so popular all over the country.

Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC

The THC molecule has several variants — the two most common are delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC.

Delta-9 THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana; the reason weed gets you high.

Delta-8 THC is an isomer of delta-9, meaning it has a similar chemical formula, with a slight difference in the arrangement of its atomic bonds.

Delta-9 THC has a double bond at the ninth carbon chain, while delta-8 THC has this bond at the eighth chain.

This subtle difference makes delta-8 THC about twice less potent than delta-9 THC.

The lower strength translates into weaker psychoactive stimulation — offering a few perks for sensitive cannabis users.

Cons of Delta-9 THC from Marijuana

Marijuana is a mild psychedelic with deeply relaxing, euphoric effects. How weed affects your body and mind depends on the consumed dose.

Low and moderate doses can ease pain, relieve stress, sharpen focus and increase productivity, and elevate mood as part of their nootropic effects.

Larger doses get you high, causing euphoria, increased appetite, and giggles. Your thinking patterns change, and so does the perception of your surroundings. You’ll feel deeply relaxed and, depending on the selected strain, energized or sedated.

Most people enjoy these sensations, but for sensitive individuals, delta-9 THC reveals its biphasic nature, causing feelings of unease and a few physiological symptoms.

The side effects of taking too much delta-9 THC include;

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Feelings of discomfort
  • Cold sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Short-term memory problems

Effects and Benefits of Delta-8 THC

Delta-8 THC has a similar effect profile to delta-9 THC, but since it’s not as powerful, it’s often dubbed “diet weed” or “cannabis light.” The lower strength also means a lower incidence of anxiety and paranoia.

That’s not to say they’re non-existent with delta-8 THC. They may still hit you when you take more than enough, but in general, the buzz is smoother and more mellow.

Most people report similar health benefits to delta-9 THC, such as:

  • Anti-nausea
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Pain relief
  • Increased appetite
  • Feelings of calmness and relaxation
  • Neuroprotection

Is Delta-8 THC Legal in Washington?

Unfortunately, no. When the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, hemp and hemp-derived products became legal across the country — including delta-8 and delta-10 THC products.

This bill requires hemp-derived extracts to contain no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC. Otherwise, they’re considered marijuana derivatives.

The states have the power to form their own laws, and 14 states have banned delta-8 products so far.

Washington is one of them.

Even though delta-9 THC is fully legal for medical and recreational purposes, the authorities have recently banned delta-8.

In a statement released by The Washington State Liquor Control Board, the production of genetically or chemically altered hemp compounds was explicitly banned.

This includes delta-8 THC since it isn’t naturally produced in large amounts by hemp plants. It forms as a byproduct of delta-9 THC degradation.

Benefits of Buying Delta-8 THC Online

If you’re in a state that allows delta-8 THC products, the best way to get your hands on high-quality extracts is through reputable online stores.

The benefits of buying delta-8 THC online over looking for delta-8 products locally include the following:

  • Lower baseline prices
  • Seasonal discounts, reward programs, and subscription orders
  • Insight into third-party lab reports and customer reviews
  • Fresher products
  • Easier comparison of different products in the comfort of your home

But how do you know which product is good and which is snake oil?

Best Online Delta-8 THC Stores

The delta-8 THC space is mostly underregulated, with no established standards regarding the manufacturing, labeling, and lab-testing of such products. There are many great brands on the market, but there’s an equal number of fly-by-night companies mooching on a booming industry.

Below I share my personal recommendation for the two leading delta-8 brands. Both companies offer high-quality delta 8 THC products and perform rigorous testing regarding their purity to ensure maximum safety.

1. Area 52

image of Area 52 Delta8 Products

Get 15% off all Area 52 products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.

Area 52 started out in 2019 and has quickly become one of the biggest players on the delta-8 THC scene. Launched with a mission to “alienize your mind,” the brand focuses on potent delta-8 products from pure distillate.

Its product range includes delta-8 THC tinctures, gummies, vape carts, and pre-rolls. These products pack a punch, with 25-40 mg of delta-8 per serving, and are infused with strain-specific terpenes that enhance the cognitive buzz from the main cannabinoid.

You can also choose from a few products from Area 52 new collection of “true full-spectrum” extracts. The new range provides novel formats like delta-8 honey, HHC gummies, and HHC pre-rolls, as well as some classic products, such as energy gummies, sleep gummies, immunity gummies, and CBD oil.

2. Finest Labs

image of Finest Labs Delta 8 THC Products

If you’re new to delta-8 THC products and feel overwhelmed by the abundance of different options, Finest Labs holds the answer to your questions. This company has a scientific, no-BS approach to cannabinoid extracts, focusing on the ratio between delta-8 THC, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes.

Finest Labs has only two products in its line-up. Don’t be discouraged by a limited choice because these formulas are crafted with great attention to detail. They also come with lower doses of delta-8 THC (15-25 mg per dose), which makes them suitable for sensitive users.

If you want to create your own cannabis blends, you can choose from Finest Labs’ selection of botanical terpenes. There are 31 varieties, each containing a unique blend of terpenes that resembles the aroma and flavor profile of various cannabis strains.

FAQs

Who can use medical marijuana in Washington?

Washington has a medical marijuana program for patients with qualifying conditions. They must be recommended by an approved doctor to obtain, possess, grow, and use medical marijuana.

Qualifying conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Intractable pain
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Severe cramping
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Traumatic brain injury

Can you grow weed in Washington?

Only medical marijuana patients can grow marijuana at home, with a limit of 15 plants per resident.

You can’t grow weed in Washington without a license. Doing so could result in a class C felony conviction, up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Can you smoke marijuana in public?

It’s illegal to smoke cannabis in public places. Consumption is restricted to private properties and with the consent of the property owner.

So far, Washington lawmakers haven’t created a licensing system for onsite consumption at retail stores.

Can you travel with marijuana in Washington?

Yes, you can travel with marijuana in Washington as long as your cannabis is in a closed container and away from the driver’s reach.

You can’t travel with weed from Washington to another state. Taking marijuana outside of a state is classified as a federal felony (marijuana trafficking), punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for less than 50 kg and fewer than 50 plants.

Is buying weed online an option in Washington?

Marijuana delivery services are illegal in Washington, although you can find plenty of unofficial online stores selling weed through such websites.

You can, however, order weed online from a licensed dispensary and pick it up in person later.

Is CBD oil from hemp legal in Washington?

Yes. This state allows all non-psychoactive hemp products, which includes CBD oil in Washington. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has become an agricultural commodity that can be grown and sold for any purpose, from clothes, ropes, and paper to construction materials, biofuel, food, and CBD extracts.

You can find CBD oil in cannabis dispensaries, pharmacies, hemp stores, vape shops, and online. Similar to delta-8 THC, the best deals and most transparent CBD brands are found online.

Buying Weed in Washington: Bottom Line

Washington was one of the first two states that legalize marijuana for recreational use. However, compared to Colorado, the progress in legalization has stalled, and despite having a legal market, Washington is far behind with growing laws and innovations regarding hemp-derived isomers of THC.

That being said, the state of Washington has a generous medical marijuana program that allows patients to grow up to 15 plants for their health needs.

Let’s hope that lawmakers soon catch up with the leading states in the country and amend the laws in Washington to speed up the progress and unlock the true potential for the cannabis market.

Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.