Cannabis Is Now Legal In Washington State

History was made in Washington on Election night when 55 percent of voters decided in favor of Initiative 502. And at 12am this morning, history was made once again.

Today, for the first time in 89 years (Washington lawmakers initially outlawed cannabis in 1923, 14 years ahead of the enactment of federal prohibition.), an adult may possess up to one ounce cannabis (and/or up to 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form) for their own personal use in private — and they may do so without being in violation of state law.

To be clear: This is not decriminalization — a policy change that amends criminal penalties for minor marijuana offenses, but that continues to define cannabis as illegal contraband under the law and subjects its consumers to civil penalties. Today in Washington, cannabis — when possessed in private by an adult in specific quantities — is a legal commodity. (By contrast, public consumption of cannabis is a civil violation. Existing penalties regarding home cultivation for non-patients remain unchanged. Rules regarding the regulated sale of cannabis to adults are to be codified later next year.)

Nevertheless, the immediate statutory changes effective today provide unprecedented legal protections for adult cannabis consumers. Rather than presuming cannabis to be illicit, and that those who possess it are engaged in illegal activity, the enactment of I-502 mandates law enforcement and prosecutors to presume that cannabis is in fact legal, and that those who possess it in personal use quantities are engaged in legal activity, unless the state can show that there are extenuating circumstances proving otherwise. Moreover, since up to one ounce of cannabis will no longer be classified as an illicit commodity under state law, police will have no legal authority to seize it from lawful adults. Finally, police will arguably no longer be permitted to legally engage in ‘fishing expeditions’ when they encounter cannabis in ‘plain view’ –- such as in someone’s home or in their car. Since marijuana is no longer defined as contraband, state police will no longer have sufficient cause to engage in a further search of the area because, legally, no criminal activity has taken place.

Yes indeed, the dominoes are falling and more will fall imminently. (Colorado’s legalization measure will take effect in early January.) And there is very little that the federal government — which on the eve of legalization said only that it is ‘reviewing’ the new law — can do to stop it. States are not mandated to criminalize marijuana or arrest adult cannabis consumers and the Federal government cannot compel prosecutors in Colorado or Washington to do otherwise.

Like alcohol prohibition before it, the criminalization of cannabis is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police. How did America’s ‘Nobel Experiment’ with alcohol prohibition come to an end? When a sufficient number of states enacted legislation repealing the state’s alcohol laws prohibition effectively discontinued. With state police and prosecutors no longer enforcing the Federal government’s unpopular law, politicians eventually had no choice but to abandon the policy altogether.

History now repeats itself.

116 thoughts

  1. Today is my birthday…

    I could not have asked for a better gift than this…

    We can thank men and woman similar to Emile Zola for STANDING UP FOR OUR RIGHTS, and CRUSHING federal propaganda and dismissing it once and for all from our lives!

    I will leave you with a quote from Emile Zola himself, “If you shut up truth, and bury it underground, it will but grow.”

    Taken almost 90 years, but our hemp is free once again… Praise God!

  2. Even if the DEA could enforce possession laws in WA and arrested anyone for it,,the jury would be made up of citizens that voted the activity legal.

    And if they tried moving the trials to another state the US Attorney trying prosecuting the case will have to convince jurors that a vote by the majority of it’s citizens means nothing to federal law.

    While lawyers and law professors might believe the claims of federal law trumps state law but layman citizens still believe the people run this country and gaining a conviction would be harder than getting a hung jury or even nullification.

  3. Sixty years ago the federal governmnent sprayed all hemp & cannabis on the Spokane Indian reservation with defoliats. To this day we are not allowed to use this native plant for medicine. A plant that was used traditionally for medicine, as well as spiritual usage. This law has done nothing for indians who are un-willing to leave thier homes, even Wa state medical card holders like myself. Assimilation is still a joke, to us! We will never be equal, until we are treated equally! With that said, I am happy for the leap of faith that all Washington voters took! It is not a demon weed, it is medicinal plant, treat it with respect! And it will grow wild once again, if only off reservations!

  4. One thing that lawmakers should know…is that pot is a satisfying herb..It’s powerful enough to make you feel good but when you don’t have any you are not going out to desperately seek more by robbing or killing. If the pot laws had been changed back in the 60s there would not be such an appetite for hard drugs..You can argue the point all you want but look at the statistics..the pot rich sections of the country have less hard drug use and violent crime. Back east the pot is crap and crack is the choice of youth.Stupid pull your heads out.

  5. With the Fiscal Cliff… now is the time to really push the Feds on legalization, Regulation and Taxation as a way to save and gain money… instead of spending, spending, spending on the war against.

  6. Thank you all for your work. As a Washingtonian it feels great knowing that if a jerk with a badge (not to be confused with a good cop) smells my herb, my life won’t be upended. What a world!

    I remember the schools teaching me that smoking pot fried one’s brain like an egg. Ha! They brainwashed me well! About ten years ago, I saw the light and learned how insidious the lies were.

    Thank God for this.

    (oh, could someone at NORML please update the Washington state penalties section? It would be grand to see it updated.)

  7. thanks to this bad law untill the marijuana stores open dont get cought buying it selling it or sharing it with anyone becouse if you READ the law it is flat out illegal for everything except having it in your pocket.And to my norml director who on my last comment when i mentioned there isnt anywhere to buy it and he told me i didnt know what i was talking about how about you read the law before you open your mouth.

    [Paul Armentano responds: Annually, some 90 percent of all marijuana arrests are for possession only offenses. I-502’s immediately provisions seek to address and eliminate the majority of arrests presently associated with cannabis. This is a step forward. Regulations regarding state-sanctioned production and sales will be finalized in 2013.]

  8. How are people in Washington and Colorado to purchase this legal marijuana? Are stores going to sell it or is that something that has not been determined yet?

  9. From here in Toronto, Canada, I love you, Washington (and Colorado)! You and Colorado are leaders on the global stage! Thank you for making many people’s dreams a reality!

  10. It’s great that this has happened, but it’s still illegal to grow it or sell it….so how are people supposed to acquire the marijuana that’s now legal for them to posses? I guess we will just have to continue breaking the law…..

  11. We still have a Big problem, You can possess but you have a problem right now with purchasing,Until Dec 2013? Where is it going to come from if you cannot legally grow it yourself? Let people grow! At least for now, The whole idea behind Re-Legalization is to take it OFF the “Black Market” NOT give them MORE Business!
    Fed`s need to step up now and remove it from the Controlled Substances list and leave Cannabis Laws up to the Individual States. Cannabis laws have “Gone over a Cliff” (pun intended)and times have changed, Bring back Hemp farming and Re-Open a very old and very Valuable Industry.

  12. Do not get caught buying weed with or without this law i posted on here before that this law does not allow you to just go buy it you have to buy it from a state store and paul posted i didn’t know what i was talking about ect even tho i was reading it right out of the law well here you go there is your Q and A about how it works and guess what exactly as i said before sharing selling and gifting are still a felony if you pass me a joint your breaking the law and you CAN NOT just go buy it anywhere and its legal its legal to have in your pocket yes but if you are seen buying it anywhere but the state stores your committing a felony and to say otherwise would be lying.So just be extra careful because it is not what most people think this law is.And if you still think i don’t know what im talking about then lets get some email chat going paul.

  13. Since consuming “marijuana infused products” are legal, can someone by baked goods and ship them to another state? I’m not asking a favor (though I’d gladly pay for the shipping) but a legal question.

  14. So you can only have an ounce? That doesn’t sound very legal…. Why not allow ANY amount? Honestly an ounce for serious smokers only last two or three days.

  15. Hi All don’t forget to tune in tomorrow on you tube for “Breaking the Taboo” a new potumentry with Morgan Freeman doing some narrating and some ex-politicians chiming in.

  16. I dare ‘any’ entity in the U.S. that would normally be responsible for Marijauna enforcement or prosecution to cause or create an issue as it pertains to the two new state laws that are and/or will come into effect!

  17. Right now, the Feds are probably litigating a new provision to the law……..on how much more easier it will be for them to put Americans in prison !!

    Colorado will be first……..

    The DEA will set up small units that will observe, then obtain warrants, then make their own arrests !!

    They will probably train ex-military that have been to Iraq and Afganistan !!

  18. Since Iowa was one of the first to legalize a fairly liberal policy of allowing gay marriage, im willing to bet that a policy of common sense will come forth in the form of marijuana legalization. C’mon Hawkeyes!!!! Don’t leave me hangin like curing weed

  19. I will seriously move to Seattle or Denver if Pennsylvania is last to legalize in a few years. Although we haven’t fully won YET, this is a MAJOR battle won. Thank God. Pot is a gift. Especially nugs/good mids. We have to keep momentum going and not give up ever till we get humane(caring) laws. Not until we have “Pot Shops” in every town in America.

  20. >Claygooding
    I think a jury would be instructed that if they were providing judgement on a case prosecuted under federal law to only consider that federal law and not the state law. That said a jury can choose to find anyone not guilty (even if overwhelming evidence said they were). I think you are right about the prosecutor not wanting a washington state jury – they would be rejected on the basis that they would not give a fair trial. By the same token the defence could have a very good argument for not being tried out of state on the same grounds. So the case may get kicked around and sent through endless re-trials. The Feds don’t want this – they want to bust as many people as possible and get them tried quickly then sent to penitentiaries for a very long time.

    It may be that Federal law enforcement just fills their quotas elsewhere in states that don’t have these laws. Or they may camp on the WA state line and catch those returning home with cannabis to neighbouring states – that would be like shooting fish in a barrel for them and they could point to a massive increase in lawlessness as a consequence of the new policies. I really do think the prohibitionist argument will now be to portray the Washington and Colorado laws as a failure and hope to stop support for the legalisation movement that way. It’s their only move – but as I see it they are already in ‘check’ and have no effective strategy for avoiding ‘ checkmate’ in a few moves.

  21. The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.
    Samuel Adams

  22. God had nothing to do with it. God does not exist. It took hard work and rational people analyzing the facts. It’s Evolution Baby!

  23. Way to go Washington state congradulation yall have beat the marijuana prohibition I,m proud of you guys.Now legal? smoke all you want WOW!!!!!!!!!!! Far out!

  24. Is England likely to follow what the USA does in allowing the possession of cannabis as it follows the country to war why not this

  25. Wonderful – guess which state I will never visit – can you imagine more people driving while high – who dreams this stuff up

  26. This is great news!

    In The Netherlands, there is an expert whom the web site is touting as having figured out a way that cannabis cultivation and regulation is legal within international treaties. The expert’s name is Ybo Buruma. Their link will take you to

    This is worth looking into, however you have to know Dutch or have someone translate it. You could try a machine translation, but I’ve found those to be substandard. Our legalization counterparts in Europe, I’m sure, will be willing to provide us with an accurate English translation.

    Please look into it. It could mean more great news.

  27. So are hashish & concentrates legal there too?

    [Editor’s note: Cannabis is legal in WA and CO…including hash, edibles, infused oil, etc.]

  28. I got shivers reading some of these parts, they seem so unreal:

    ” . . . since up to one ounce of cannabis will no longer be classified as an illicit commodity under state law, police will have no legal authority to seize it from lawful adults. . . . ”

    Just feels so strange. So used to the idea of cops frisking, discovering bud, confiscating bud, and maybe slapping on the cuffs, that it feels like a mind warp.

    Somebody pinch me!

    Now we’ve got to get it legal in other states, to take the pressure off the good folks in Wash and Colo. All I can say is, hip hip hooray!

  29. @ Frank,

    I’m sure the happy people in Wash will all shed a collective tear at your threat to never visit. So, in your tortured mind, making MJ legal suddenly will prompt every stoned person to suddenly want to get behind the wheel. Take a sip of your martini and settle down.

  30. @Frank there are DUI laws for marijuana. By your reasoning you should never get on the road due to drunk drivers since they are legal to drink what ever they please whenever they have it so long as it’s not in public. Please refrain from making stupid statements.

  31. @Frank – I’m pretty sure you would not enjoy living in Washington now that a bit of the people’s liberties have been restored there. I think Oklahoma is the place for you and others like you. Millions of us have dreamed of making marijuana legal again for many many years.

  32. It shows poor planning on the states part. They must have known by the polls that legalization was going to pass. They could let the medical dispensaries handle sales for now. You now have a state where eating food is legal but selling food is not. I do not get why it will take a year to get a plan in place. You could let people who own a currant dispensary add another or expand their currant store to start out with. Also use currant growers. I would be fearful that this lack of planning is going to jeopardize this joyful event. Opportunist are being invited to fill this void by breaking the law and will kill a good thing in the process.

  33. Yeah really, this law needs a rehab already. How can pot be legal, if it cannot be grown and cultivation is illegal. This is decrimizations. Only Colorado has actually legalized marijuana.

    Washington has the best decrimimalization law. But if police can still steal your plants and arrest you, it ain’t legal folks and it affectively directs current marijuana users toward the black market and crappy Mexi-weed. They need to start issueing licenses much sooner than 2014! This law guarantees a market for 100% illegal marijuana for at least one full year. The huge hole will be filled with all sorts of problems, if they don’t issue some kind of temporary permits for 2013 cultivation season.

    I don’t think the goal here is to change from 90% arrests for minor possession to 90% arrests for minor cultivation of a few plants. Seriously, it is going to take years to figure out how to issue licenses? Don’t they already know how to do that??? Here’s a simple rule: Buy a license and you can grow up to three large females for 2013, after harvest you can put another three into bud; it expires in 2014 when the shops open.

    Is it really that hard to think of good ideas?

  34. @Frank
    “”Wonderful – guess which state I will never visit – can you imagine more people driving while high – who dreams this stuff up””

    A favorite quote of prohibitionist is that driving high on marijuana doubles your chances pf having an accident.
    It also happens that driving 5mph over the speed limit doubles your chances of an accident.
    Any fines or legal actions taken against drivers high on marijuana should be the same as those on driving 5mph over the speed limit since both introduce the same amount of risk to other drivers and both are the drivers choice.

  35. To the guy above that was talking about them posting up on state line and catching travelers, well you are absolutely right on so many levels, but it isnt the feds.
    I made a trip this morning to SW Kansas from my ranch SE Colorado to come visit some family for the holidays. As soon as i crossed over that state line: Checkpoint 5 miles into Kansas, stopped, they noticed the Co tags, was selected for “random” (my ass!) check and instructed to pull into a small waiting area they had set up, ofcourse i was asked if they could search, i told them politely “no”. After being threatened and intimidated by 5 different county sherrifs at this ONE checkpoint, they tried to bring the dog in but couldnt use him due to my tires being covered in roadkill, and was told to leave.
    I get into my relatives town, and wasnt there but 5 minutes and was stopped on the basis of a bogus city “ordinance” on people living there and keeping out of state tags on their vehicles, i stated i was just in town to visit my relatives for the holidays and was completely ignored. Again i was asked if they could search, again i said no, then the dude said he smelled pot(no frackin way i didnt bring any!) and since im out of colorado then i MUST have some. was handcuffed, stuffed into the back of a police car and watched the guy literally shred the inside of my ride, getting pissed that he couldnt find anything he called some of his buddies in to berrate and harass me into telling them “where the bud was”. the entire time i just sat there, silently, with a big grin on my face. After a FULL HOUR 1/2 i was given a breathalizer and sent on my way. My family and I are going up to Wichita to meet with the Kansas ACLU on this matter as we cant go local without fear of reprisal. My seats are ripped, there are ashes and ciggerette butts everywhere from the cop literally tossing them all over the car, my gear shift boot is torn to shreds, my center console is completely broken, it honestly looks like i rolled it a few times and somehow all the damage was on the interior. needless to say, i am P.I.S.S.E.D.!

  36. Im ready for Arkansas and Missouri to get their shit together and make some ppl’s lives easier whikle having more tax money …Come on Hillbillys??

  37. Im ready for Arkansas and Missouri to get their shit together and make some ppl’s lives easier while having more tax money …Come on Hillbillys??

  38. It is expected that more states will follow with similar ballot proposals since states now know WHAT IS POSSIBLE because of CO and WA precedent setting victories.

    Not all 50 states will have to legalize it for the federal status (arbitrary CSA scheduling) of cannabis to change and finally put an end to an unscientific and corrupt scheduling system.

    Only 2/3 of states would need to pass similar laws, 33.

    There are already 18 states that passed medical cannabis laws.

    And re: comment above, People who regularly use cannabis, as a part of their daily lifestyle, stop getting stoned in the way they are affected by cannabis after a period of non-use or as a beginning cannabis user.

    Studies have shown that regular cannabis users are predictably more cautious and less accident-prone, in general, than non cannabis users.

    The drug war commercial about “driving stoned” was sort of a dishonesty. With a background of flashing emergency lights, the voice-over talks about marijuana-related crashes resulting in fatalities.

    They forget to mention that the statistics they used were for people involved in auto fatality cases where the person was drunk on alcohol and also tested positive for cannabis.

    That detail is significant enough to claim that the commercial was another deception from drug war propaganda (misinformation and disinformation)

    statistics in tho commercials are deceivingly presented because in all those cases they cite, the drivers were also drunk on alcohol, besides cannabis.

  39. Hey NORML!

    This is a great day for us Washingtonians, and American liberties in general. It brought tears to my eyes, and I am so proud to live in this great state. After 20 years of fighting for this cause, I am more confident than ever that we can vigorously attack federal policy (on some points by their very own definitions) and get the feds either looking the other way, or supporting our rights outright.

    But this is only the first step, a mere chink in the armor of the prohibition titans.

    The next steps we should go after are:

    1) Getting an exemption for marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act for states that legalize marijuana for recreational use
    2) Getting marijuana rescheduled from a schedule 1 to a schedule 4 narcotic (by the DOJ’s own definitions this should have already been done!)
    3) Shifting jurisdiction of marijuana related issues from the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
    4) Sharing a portion of the collected taxes with the federal government, much like alcohol, to offset the money the federal goverment is going to lose by not siezing (read: stealing) peoples’ homes, cars, boats and bank accounts – like they do right now.

    Please keep up the good fight!

    I will continue to fight until we have JUSTICE once and for all.

    Peace! Louis

  40. A Way of Life by “Emancipated”

    “Based upon my own personal experiences and the experiences of a close associate I have come to formulate a number of theories as to how marijuana can be used not simply as a recreational “party” drug but as what I like to refer to as a way of life. Simply, for me, it has become such and I feel my story helps to bust many of the current marijuana myths while at the same time promoting the many benefits of its use.”


    A Cannabis Odyssey: To Smoke or Not To Smoke by Lester Grinspoon

    “,,,I was 44 years old in 1972 when I experienced this first marijuana high. Because I have found it both so useful and benign I have used it ever since. I have used it as a recreational drug, as a medicine, and as an enhancer of some capacities. Almost everyone knows something of its usefulness as a recreational substance, growing numbers of people are becoming familiar with its medical utility, but only practiced cannabis users appreciate some of the other ways in which it can be useful. It has been so useful to me that I cannot help but wonder how much difference it would have made had I begun to use it at a younger age.

    …And most non-users, until they become aware of its medical value, believe that smoking to party and hang out pretty much defines the limits of its usefulness. This stereotype is powerful, and reactions ranging from puzzlement to outrage greet claims that this party drug could be useful as medicine or for any other purposes.

    …In the meantime, Betsy and I are gradually being given the opportunity to explore another dimension of the ways in which cannabis can be valuable; we are discovering its usefulness in the task of achieving reconciliation with the aging process, including coming to terms with the inevitable physical and emotional aches, deficits and losses. Cannabis also enhances our appreciation of the time we have, now that we are both emeritus, to enjoy our children, grandchildren and friends, literature, music and travel, and our daily walks in the New England woods. Of still more importance, it helps us to realize the wisdom of Robert Browning’s words, “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be…”

  41. Since it’s illegal to buy or sell, I wonder if you can barter for it? Glad to see change taking place.

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