Washington state started as a medical marijuana state in 1998. Since then, Washington has evolved into a recreational state, but medical marijuana is still widely available. You can go to dispensaries all over the state and pick up some really beautiful and potent bud as well as concentrates, edibles, and topicals. In 2012, Washington state passed a recreational marijuana program that is very similar to the program we have here in Colorado with a few key differences in regards to the cultivation of your own marijuana for personal use. Washington is the only state with recreational weed that doesn’t allow recreational users to cultivate their own weed. If you want to grow your own and smoke your own, here’s what you need to know.
Who Can Grow?
As previously mentioned, Washington state and Colorado passed their respective initiatives legalizing marijuana for recreational and personal use in 2012. Initiative 502 in Washington state legalized non-medical, recreational use of marijuana by people 21 years of age or older. However, Washington’s initiative 502 is different than Colorado’s amendment 64 by a few key differences. In Colorado, you can grow your own recreational weed. There are laws in place in regards to possession and the number of plants you can grow, of course, but Washington state does not allow for the cultivation of recreational plants. Only licensed growers known as producers can cultivate recreational marijuana. Producers must be specially licensed, and are the only ones who can grow recreational weed under Washington’s recreational use laws.
However, medical marijuana consumers can cultivate their own weed on their own property. Even though recreational weed is totally legal in Washington, recreational users cannot grow their own according to Washington law. If you are a medical consumer in Colorado with a medical license, you are able to grow a limited number of plants for your own medical use. The kicker is that the consumer must receive a doctor’s recommendation, meaning that there are a limited number of qualifying conditions for folks to grow at home. People with the qualifying conditions and a recommendation from their doctor are allowed to possess up to 24 ounces of medical marijuana and may grow up to 15 plants according to the Washington medical marijuana law.
If you can’t obtain a medical license or you don’t have a qualifying condition that allows you to grow your own medical marijuana, you can consider becoming a producer. Producers require special licensing, but it can still be a viable option if you think growing weed is your true calling. Production and retail of recreational marijuana in Washington is administered by the Washington Liquor Control Board. If you want to get a license to produce cannabis, you’ll have to pay a pretty hefty application fee and an even heftier annual renewal fee.
You also have to prove that the area you want to grow in is compliant with the law. Among other things, you’ll have to allow the government to take a look at your property. You may only grow in an enclosed area like a greenhouse, shed, or garage. You may also be able to grow outdoors in a field as long as the plants have a physical barrier around them so that the plants aren’t able to be seen by the public. If you’re serious about becoming a producer, you’ll also have to submit to random compliance checks as well as criminal background checks. Becoming a producer means really minding your p’s and q’s.
If you want to sell the weed you grow, you’ll have to become a licensed retailer as well, or give the weed to other licensed retailers. Under initiative 502 and the Liquor Control Board regulations, only licensed retailers can sell the weed. Under the marijuana retail regulations, an applicant for a retail license must pay an application fee of $250, an annual renewal fee of $1,000, submit fingerprints for random criminal history checks, and meet various additional financial and other requirements.
What Are the Cultivation Laws?
Growing cannabis for recreational use is completely 110% illegal in Washington, and if you get caught trying to grow recreationally, the penalties can be very heavy. AS we mentioned before, in order to grow medical marijuana, you must have a qualifying, pre-existing condition as well as a doctor’s recommendation. Doctor’s in Washington don’t hand recommendations to just anyone either. The qualifying conditions must be debilitating, and prevent people from going to a dispensary to buy their own weed. If caregivers are available, it can be even harder to get a recommendation. However, there are ways around it, and talking to your doctor will be your best bet.
In order to get a doctor’s recommendation or cultivate your own weed, you must have one of the following pre-existing conditions as outlined by Washington’s medical marijuana law:
- Crohn’s disease
- Hepatitis C
- HIV or AIDS
- Intractable pain
- Persistent muscle spasms, and/or spasticity
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Any “terminal or debilitating condition”
If you qualify and your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you can cultivate your own weed in a space that is out of public view or in an enclosed area. You must be compliant, though, as penalties and fines for noncompliance are heavy.
According to the law, if you voluntarily enter the state’s medical consumer database (meaning you have a medical card), and get the go-ahead from your doctor, you’ll be allowed to grow up to 6 plants in your home for personal medical use. While you cultivate your own weed, you’ll only be able to possess up to 8 ounces of useable cannabis from your own plants at a time. Have no fear, though. If you talk to your doctor and your doctor believes that your condition is debilitating and extreme, they may specify upon the authorization of your medical card that it is recommended for you to be allowed to grow up to 15 plants in your home. Having up to 15 plants can allow you to yield and keep up to 16 ounces of usable weed for personal medical use at any time. You may not grow cannabis if your home is within 1000 feet of a school, a school bus stop, a public park, or in a housing project designated as a drug-free zone. If you want to learn more about the possession limits for home-grown weed, you can check out Second Substitute Senate Bill 5052 right here.
For a state that cracks down on their cultivation laws, you can find peace in the fact that they’re pretty lenient on their possession laws. If you’re medically licensed, you can have up to 48 ounces of cannabis-infused products (like edibles) at any given time. You can have up to 3 ounces of flower on you at any given time. You can also have up to 216 ounces of liquid marijuana-infused products, and up to 21 grams of concentrates at any point in time.
Washington state is the only recreational marijuana state that does not allow recreational marijuana users to grow their own stash. If you want to grow weed, you must be a medical marijuana cardholder, or you must register with the state as a producer and submit to random background checks and compliance checks. The cultivation laws for medical cardholders aren’t too strict, but you must have a doctor’s recommendation in order to grow. In Washington you can grow up to 6 plants, or up to 15 with a doctor’s consent.