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Legalized Recreational Marijuana in Canada Does Not Mean Open Borders

Posted by Steve Karimi | Aug 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

Just recently, Canada legalized recreational marijuana and beginning in October of this year, adults in Canada, much like adults in Washington State, will also be able to legally buy and smoke marijuana for pleasure. Currently in the United States, there are nine states, including the District of Columbia, that have legalized recreational marijuana, with North Dakota approving a recreational marijuana measure for the ballot. A recent article in the Washington Post outlines what it might mean for border state residents when crossing the border. Although recreational marijuana is legal in both Washington State and Canada, will Washington residents be able to legally bring usable marijuana back and forth across the border? The short and the long answer to this is no. Federal law governs at the border.

What are the laws for recreational marijuana in Washington state?

In November 2012, voters approved Initiative 502 making it legal for adults aged 21 and older in Washington to possess recreational useable marijuana. That being said, the first day that recreational sales of marijuana to the public became legal was July 8, 2014. In order to produce, process, or sell marijuana legally in the state of Washington you must apply for and obtain a separate license for each respective category from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. The possession of marijuana is an entirely different hurdle. There are several different laws in place for retailers, producers, processors, and employees, but what does the law say about an ordinary citizen possessing marijuana?

Washington state law says that it is “unlawful for any person to possess a controlled substance unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription,” or from a licensed retailer, in which case the possession must be by a person 21 years of age or older, and may be only of usable marijuana, marijuana concentrates, or marijuana-infused products in amounts that do not exceed:

  • “1 ounce of usable marijuana
  • 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form;
  • 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form; or
  • 7 grams of marijuana concentrate.”

It is very important to note that no person under 21 years of age may possess, manufacture, sell, or distribute marijuana, marijuana-infused products, or marijuana concentrates, regardless of THC concentration. This, however, does not include qualifying patients with a valid authorization.

What To Do If Arrested For Possession of Marijuana

There is a lot more to unpack here as possession of marijuana can result in a felony, a misdemeanor, or no charges at all. For that reason we invite you to read more about how Mr. Karimi can assist you in navigating the new and ever-changing recreational marijuana laws.

If you find yourself facing drug possession charges in Seattle or its surrounding areas, the Law Offices of Steve Karimi are here to help. Mr. Karimi, named a “rising star” in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his knowledge and insight into prosecution strategies to protect your rights in criminal court. To discuss your case, contact Law Offices of Steve Karimi to set up a free consultation.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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