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March 20, 2023

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Can weed be smoked in public? We break down what you need to know about WA cannabis laws

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TACOMA — Recreational marijuana use in Washington was decriminalized just over 10 years ago. Still, some residents and out-of-state visitors might not know where recreational cannabis can be sold or where it can be consumed.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board oversees regulations of cannabis use and distribution, and the Washington State Department of Health provides additional clarity on specific state regulations. Here is information on commercial marijuana retailers, where you can obtain marijuana and who can smoke it.

Who can sell and grow marijuana

Only state-licensed retail stores with a cannabis license are permitted to sell marijuana. However, cities create their own ordinances that dictate where cannabis businesses can or can’t be. In Pierce County, marijuana can be sold at authorized retailers in Tacoma and Fife, but other cities such as University Place, Lakewood, Puyallup and Gig Harbor have banned commercial selling of marijuana. To learn more on what towns permit marijuana businesses, view this interactive map by Tableau Public.

Reselling marijuana is classified as a felony, and those who sell or provide marijuana to someone under the age of 18 can incur up to a $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison.

It is still illegal to grow your own marijuana for recreational use.

If you’re unsure where to find a local weed dispensary, website Weedmaps provides a map for all Washington storefronts that sell recreational and medical marijuana.

Where you can obtain marijuana

The state allows anyone age 21 and older to obtain marijuana. However, recreational consumers can only possess a certain amount of the substance at any given time:

  • 1 ounce of consumable marijuana, also known as buds or dried marijuana flower
  • 7 grams of concentrated cannabis such as oils, hashes and kief
  • 16 ounces of marijuana-infused edibles

In addition to the substance itself, adults can possess cannabis-related products such as a bong or pipe, according to website Cannabis & Glass.

Where you can smoke marijuana

You can openly smoke marijuana at a private residence, but property owners have the right to enact their own restrictions. Employers also have the right to place restrictions, even to those who have medical cannabis authorization.

When it comes to public spaces, it is illegal to smoke or vape marijuana or eat edibles. Examples include streets, sidewalks, state and federal parks, public hiking trails and ski resorts.

Similar to alcohol, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal. The blood-THC limit is 5 nanograms.

People should be aware that none of their rights to use marijuana are protected under federal law. Federal authorities can enforce their own regulations at any time on federal property such as national parks or forests, federal buildings, military bases, on navigable waters, at airports, seaports, near the coast and at the Canadian border.

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