One of the most confusing areas of the law in the United States today is marijuana law. Out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, there are a handful of different approaches, ranging all the way from outright illegality to it being completely legal, even for recreational purposes. In between these extremes are shades of legality, with states allowing its use and possession in certain situations and in certain amounts, all of which vary from state to state. As a result, you can be following all of the rules in one state, but get arrested as soon as you cross the border into another.
One of the situations that states have disagreed on, when it comes to the use and possession of the drug, is medical marijuana. 24 states in the U.S. have either legalized medicinal marijuana or effectively decriminalized it. Thankfully for the people suffering from the host of ailments that medicinal marijuana can help, Washington is one of these states. However, the complications that this raises in the law can make it more difficult for people to know if they are breaking the law or abiding by it.
Here are the basics of Washington's medical marijuana law.
Medical Marijuana in Washington
In 1998, Washington was one of the first states to enact a law allowing for the legal use of marijuana for specific medicinal purposes. The law allows for the use of marijuana to treat “terminal or debilitating medical conditions,” including:
- HIV / AIDS,
- Hepatitis C,
- Multiple sclerosis,
- Acute or chronic glaucoma, and
- Crohn's Disease
Washington's medical marijuana law sets out the procedure for an authorized healthcare professional to prescribe marijuana to the patients that he or she thinks would benefit from it. Additionally, the law allows for caregivers – people who do not need the drug for medical reasons, but who are caring for someone who does need it – so they can help the patient receive the care that they need. The law even allows for the cultivation of a set amount of marijuana plants in a patient's home, which can yield up to a certain amount of usable marijuana, depending on the prescription.
Legal Confusion Stemming from Medical Marijuana
Washington's medical marijuana law provides an exception from the enforcement of the state's typical drug laws for patients who count on marijuana to cope with their medical issues. Because of this exception, there is often some confusion when police have to try to enforce the state's drug laws. This can result in erroneous arrests and even criminal charges for a drug possession crime, even though you are legally allowed to grow or possess the drug.
If this happens to you or to a loved one in Washington, contact the law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online for a vigorous defense on your behalf.