Approved by majority vote in 2012, I-502 legalized the sale, purchase and use of marijuana in Washington State for people 21 years of age and older. I-502 also established a system in which marijuana is regulated, taxed and distributed. We want visitors and residents to be educated on the use and purchase of marijuana and marijuana-infused products so that they can enjoy this new industry in accordance with state and local law.
How Many States Have Legalized Marijuana?
Marijuana legalization went into effect on December 2013, and the first legal marijuana sales in Washington and Spokane were made on July 8, 2014. At the time, Washington was the second state to legalize recreational cannabis. Since 2014, 10 states total have legalized marijuana use, while 33 have voted to allow medical marijuana sales and use.
States That Have Legalized Marijuana Use
The Basics of I-502
What You Can and Can't Do With Legal Marijuana
In Washington, the recreational and medical marijuana industry is overseen by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. The sale and use of recreational weed mirror that of alcohol and cigarettes. So, when in doubt about the law ask yourself “could I do this with a bottle of liquor?” or “could I do this with a cigarette?”. If the answer is no, then you definitely can’t do it with a joint, pipe, vape pen or edible.
But, here are the basics of Washington marijuana law:
- Must be 21+ to purchase, consume or be in possession of marijuana
- Possession is limited to one ounce of cannabis, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, or 72 ounces in liquid form
- It is against the law to open/consume weed or marijuana-infused products in view of the general public. Meaning, you can’t smoke or otherwise consume marijuana in places like public parks, bars or restaurants, parking lots or concerts and other public events
- Marijuana must be consumed on private property
- Marijuana must be purchased from a state-licensed retail store
- It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana if you have more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. Doing so may result in significant legal penalties
- Homegrown marijuana for recreational use or sale remains illegal
- You do not need to be a Washington state resident to legally purchase marijuana, however, all marijuana products must be consumed within the state of Washington and cannot be taken across state or international borders
Other Aspects of I-502
Washington has limited the number of retail licenses for the state. Currently, there are 556 licenses state-wide. In Spokane County, 33 have been issued. This does not include licenses for medicinal marijuana. As of 2019, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board is not accepting applications for any additional licenses.
There are also restrictions on where retail pot shops are allowed to be. Stores cannot be within 1000 feet of schools, playgrounds, recreation centers, childcare centers, public parks, public transit centers, libraries or arcades that allow minors to enter. However, local governments are allowed to take up ordinances that reduce the buffer zone everywhere except schools and public playgrounds.
And don’t worry, if you travel to Spokane you won’t be inundated with loud billboards featuring stoners and psychedelic looking pot leaves. There are restrictions on the advertisement of recreational weed as well. Stores are restricted to just two external signs of limited size. Outdoor advertisements are not allowed to depict the use of marijuana or marijuana plants. Most billboards you’ll see are limited to the name and location of recreational dispensaries. Advertising is also banned on public transportation and on vehicles - so you won’t see any marijuana advertisements on buses or delivery vans, etc.
Purchasing Legal Marijuana
What You Need To Know
There are a lot of options when going to purchase recreational marijuana. There are a variety of stores, strains, types, brands, and ways to smoke or consume marijuana—it can be a little overwhelming if you’re walking into a marijuana dispensary for the very first time. However, there are three things you absolutely need to know when you go to purchase marijuana for the first time.
First -- Minors are absolutely not allowed inside of retail stores. If you aren’t 21 or over, you aren’t entering the building. They ask for ID, so make sure you have photo ID out and ready. Remember, legal marijuana follows a lot of the same regulations that liquor sales do. Just like you need a driver’s license to buy a 6-pack, you need an ID to purchase a joint.
Second -- Bring cash. Marijuana retailers are not able to use electronic forms of payment due to the fact that marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. This limits the store’s banking options, and therefore you have to have some green to buy the green. Most stores have ATMs available on site, but like all ATMs outside of your bank, there’s a small fee to use them.
Third -- Ask for help. Not sure what to buy? Should you get an indica or sativa? Vape or pipe? Joint or edible? Where do you start? Just ask. All of the stores in Spokane know their product inside and out, and they want you to have the best experience possible. Budtenders, as they’re called, will ask you what kind of high you’re looking for and why you’re smoking. Are you smoking for fun? Are you trying to sleep? Those kinds of questions. From there they can recommend different products and get you set up with all the correct supplies. Always ask.
Marijuana Dispensaries in Spokane
Indica vs. Sativa
What's The Difference?
There are two types of cannabis plants that are grown, indica and sativa. The plants differ not only in their chemical makeup but also in the way they look, grow and the way they affect the body.
At the base, the difference between indica and sativa is that indica has higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC and sativa is the opposite—with higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD. This difference impacts the type of high that products derived and created each strain gives. Indica products are known for giving the user a more relaxed feeling, and sativa is known for giving the user a more energetic high. The best thing to do when picking which strain is best for you is to ask a budtender at your chosen retail marijuana store.
The plants also look different. Sativa plants are taller, thinner and have more narrow leaves. They are also typically a lighter shade of green. Indica cannabis plants are typically short, bushy plants and have wide leaves.