In 1998, Washington state residents approved Measure 692 which allowed for the medical use of marijuana. Under this provision, patients who are suffering from illnesses such as AIDS, glaucoma, MS, epilepsy, nausea or chronic pain can obtain a prescription from a certified physician. This will allow the patient to keep a 60 day supply of marijuana in their possession. Medical marijuana patients will be issued a special I.D. and are encouraged to have this I.D. with them whenever they are using their prescription.
Medical Marijuana Laws
However, just because you’re a patient doesn’t mean you would be completely exempt from the other Washington marijuana laws. If you are found to have more than a 60 day supply of medical marijuana or are arrested for selling any amount of pot, you could still face the same level of penalties as non-medical users.
Washington Marijuana Possession Penalties
When it comes to marijuana possession charges in the state of Washington there are just two levels: having amounts under 40 ounces or above 40 ounces. If arrested for possession of the lesser amount then you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor and spend a minimum of 24 hours in jail. That is the state’s only mandatory minimum sentence that applies to marijuana charges.
Depending on the circumstances, that jail time could be increased to a maximum of 90 days. Typically this would happen with repeat offenders. The fine for this offense could be as high as $500.
Being arrested in possession of more than 40 ounces of pot will have you being charged with a felony offense. The possible jail time for that conviction can be up to five years along with a $10,000 fine. Felony convictions also mean the loss of the right to vote and own guns.
Washington Marijuana Growing or Selling Penalties
The above and below 40 ounce level of distinction also applies to growing or selling marijuana. However, these charges are considered a felony offense in Washington. A conviction for growing or selling less than 40 ounces of marijuana could mean up to six months behind bars and paying $10,000 in fines.
Being convicted of selling or growing any amount above 40 ounces will still have a $10,000 fine, but the potential jail time can go up to five years. If the offender is convicted of selling to a minor, which is in this state would be anyone three years or younger, then the jail time and fines could be doubled.
Miscellaneous Washington Marijuana Penalties
If you are arrested in possession of, making or delivering any kind of marijuana paraphernalia you will be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to 90 days in jail if convicted. Any juvenile who is convicted of a marijuana offense will have their driver’s license suspended for one year.
Washington state does not have a specific driving under the influence of drugs exemption, but that doesn’t mean a driver who is caught under the influence won’t be in trouble. They can still be charged with possession and face those penalties. As for the DUI charge, the same punishment for driving under the influence of alcohol would apply.