By passing Initiative 502 back in 2012, Washington became one of the few states in the U.S. to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In fact, we were one of the first states in the country to pass a legalization law. However, the passage of Initiative 502 does not mean that there are no more restrictions or drug laws that you have to abide by. For example, you could still get arrested for drug possession if you were found with more than an ounce of useable marijuana.
This is why it is so necessary to understand how Washington's medical marijuana law works: If you are protected by the medical marijuana law, then you will be allowed to do more with the drug than the people who are not protected by it. One of the things that Washington's medical marijuana law changes drastically is your ability to cultivate your own plants.
Cultivation is Still Illegal in Washington
Before Initiative 502 was passed, it was illegal to grow your own marijuana plants. Unfortunately for marijuana users, the Initiative only granted limited exceptions to this rule. Since the law's passage, only licensed growers, which it calls “producers,” can legally cultivate marijuana plants. The licenses needed to become a producer under the law are steep, though, involving application and renewal fees and both background and property checks by the Washington Liquor Control Board.
Growing your own marijuana plants without the proper licenses can lead to severe penalties. Marijuana cultivation is a class C felony charge, which carries up to five years of jail time and up to $10,000 in fines. First time offenders face an additional mandatory fine of $1,000, while subsequent offenders face one of $2,000.
Washington's Medical Marijuana Law Allows a Limited Amount of Cultivation
The medical marijuana statute in Washington carves out an exception to the law against growing your own plants. How much you can grow, though, depends on the recommendation of your doctor and whether you are registered in the state's voluntary patient database.
If you do not register in the patient database, then you will be limited to cultivating only four plants and possessing up to six ounces of marijuana in your home. However, by registering in the database, these amounts increase to up to six plants and eight ounces.
If your doctor or physician decides that these amounts are insufficient for your needs, though, he or she can authorize larger amounts, allowing you to grow up to 15 plants and possess up to 16 ounces of useable marijuana in your home.
Seattle Drug Crime Defense Attorney Steve Karimi
Marijuana laws are developing rapidly throughout the United States. Unfortunately, the constant changes are making it difficult for law enforcement to keep up, and mistakes are made constantly that can lead to innocent people facing criminal charges. If you or someone you know is facing a drug charge when you are protected by the state's medical marijuana laws, call the law office of defense attorney Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.