Washington’s first state-licensed retail cannabis operators opened for business this morning.

The state’s Liquor Control Board issued 24 marijuana retailer licenses late last week. (Under state regulations, the Board may issue up to 334 licenses to retail facilities.) Of those, six opened for business today – the first day legal sales were permissible – according to the Associated Press.

Retail sale prices for a gram of cannabis ranged from $10 to $20 per gram on opening day, according to news reports. Prices are expected to fall once additional retailers open and once existing retailers obtain additional supplies of the product.

Similar state-licensed stores have been operating in Colorado since January 1.

Voters in both states in 2012 approved ballot measures regulating the commercial production, retail sale, and adult use of cannabis.


State and Relevant Medical Marijuana Laws

Chapter 69.51A RCWBallot Initiative I-692 — Approved by 59% of voters on Nov. 3, 1998
Effective: Nov. 3, 1998″Qualifying patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses who, in the judgment of their physicians, may benefit from the medical use of marijuana, shall not be found guilty of a crime under state law for their possession and limited use of marijuana.”

Approved Conditions: cachexia; cancer; HIV or AIDS; epilepsy; glaucoma; intractable pain (defined as pain unrelieved by standard treatment or medications); and multiple sclerosis. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Washington Board of Health.

Additional conditions as of Nov. 2, 2008: Crohn’s disease, Hepatitis C with debilitating nausea or intractable pain, diseases, including anorexia, which result in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, or spasticity, when those conditions are unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.

Added as of Aug. 31, 2010: chronic renal failure

Amended:Senate Bill 6032
Effective: 2007 (rules being defined by Legislature with a July 1, 2008 due date)

Amended:Final Rule based on Significant Analysis
Effective: Nov. 2, 2008

Possession/Cultivation: “On July 1, 2016, the possession amounts will change and will depend on whether the patient or designated provider is entered into the marijuana database. Patients and designated providers who are entered into the database will be able to:

  • Possess six plants and eight ounces of useable marijuana.
  • Be authorized by their healthcare practitioner for up to fifteen plants and sixteen ounces of usable marijuana.”

Amended:SB 5073
Effective: July 22, 2011
Gov. Christine Gregoire signed sections of the bill and partially vetoed others, as explained in the Apr. 29, 2011 veto notice. Gov. Gregoire struck down sections related to creating state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and a voluntary patient registry.

Updates: On Jan. 21, 2010, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington ruled that Ballot Initiative “I-692 did not legalize marijuana, but rather provided an authorized user with an affirmative defense if the user shows compliance with the requirements for medical marijuana possession.” State v. Fry

ProCon.org contacted the Washington Department of Health to ask whether it had received any instructions in light of this ruling. Kristi Weeks, Director of Policy and Legislation, stated the following in a Jan. 25, 2010 email response to ProCon.org:

“The Department of Health has a limited role related to medical marijuana in the state of Washington. Specifically, we were directed by the Legislature to determine the amount of a 60 day supply and conduct a study of issues related to access to medical marijuana. Both of these tasks have been completed. We have maintained the medical marijuana webpage for the convenience of the public.

The department has not received ‘any instructions’ in light of State v. Fry. That case does not change the law or affect the 60 day supply. Chapter 69.51A RCW, as confirmed in Fry, provides an affirmative defense to prosecution for possession of marijuana for qualifying patients and caregivers.”

On Nov. 6, 2012, Washington voters passed Initiative 502, which allows the state to “license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over 21 and tax marijuana sales.” The website for Washington’s medical marijuana program states that the initiative “does not amend or repeal the medical marijuana laws (chapter 69.51A RCW) in any way. The laws relating to authorization of medical marijuana by healthcare providers are still valid and enforceable.”

SB 5052 passed the House by a vote of 60-36 on Apr. 10, 2015 and the Senate by a vote of 41-8 on Apr. 14, 2015. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law with partial vetoes on Apr. 24, 2015.

Qualifying patients in Washington need a valid Medical Marijuana authorization form from their healthcare practitioners.

“Beginning July 1, 2016, patients and designated providers who are entered into the Medical Marijuana Authorization Database will receive a recognition card which will entitle the patient to additional rights and protections under SB 5052:

-Arrest protection
-Purchase products sales tax free
-Purchase three times the legal limit for recreational

Patients and designated providers who hold valid authorizations but aren’t entered into the database will have an affirmative defense to criminal prosecution if they possess no more than four plants and six ounces of usable marijuana. They may purchase only in accordance with the laws and rules for non-patients.”

Contact and Program Details

Department of Health
PO Box 47866
Olympia, WA 98504-7866
Phone: 360-236-4700
Fax: 360-236-4768MedicalMarijuana@doh.wa.gov

Medical Marijuana (Cannabis)

Information provided by the state on sources for medical marijuana:

“The new medical marijuana cooperative law replaced the marijuana collectives law on July 1, 2016. Up to four medical marijuana patients or their designated provider may join together to grow marijuana for the patients’ personal use.
Every member must be entered into the medical marijuana authorization database and have a medical marijuana recognition card.”

“A Patient’s Guide to Medical Marijuana Cooperatives,” doh.wa.gov, June 2016

Patient Registry Fee:

Accepts other states’ registry ID cards?

Voluntary – Patients who join the medical marijuana authorization database receive a medical marijuana recognition card