Washington Medical Marijuana Laws

Washington Marijuana Penalties




Max. Fine

Personal Use
1 oz. or less (Private possession/consumption)

No Criminal Penalty



1 oz. or less (Public consumption)

Civil Penalty



1 oz. to 40 g.


*24 hours-90 days


More than 40 g.


5 years


* Mandatory minimum sentence.
With intent to distribute
Any Amount


5 years


Sale, Distribution or Cultivation
Any amount


5 years


To a minor at least 3 years younger.


10 years


Within 1,000 ft of a school, school bus stop or in a public park, in a public housing project designated as a drug-free zone, in public transportation, and other locations is punishable by double fines and imprisonment.
Hash & Concentrates
Possession of less than 40 g.


1 day


Possession of more than 40 g.


5 years


Manufacturing, sale, possession


5 years


Subsequent offenses carry greater penalties.
Patients may possess hash and concentrates for medical use.
Civil Asset Forfeiture
Vehicles and other property may be seized.
Use, possession, delivery, or possession/manufacture with intent to deliver.


*24 hours-90 days


To a minor at least 3 years younger.


1 year


* Mandatory minimum sentence

Washington Medical Marijuana Facts

Washington Medical Marijuana Statistics and Marijuana Facts

Washington state voters came out in support of medical marijuana not long after California when they approved Ballot Initiative I-692 in 1998. At that time, 59% of Washington voters supported the measure. The original law authorized possession and cultivation of cannabis for patients who had a doctor’s recommendation. It authorized cahexia, cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and intractable pain as qualifying conditions. In 2008, the legislature expanded the list of conditions to include Crohn’s disease, Hepatitis C with intractable and severe syndromes. A curious fact about medical marijuana in Washington is that the state does not have a patient registry or a medical marijuana card; instead patients use their doctor’s recommendation (which must be on tamper-resistant paper) as their document of eligibility.


  • Washington allows patients or their caregivers to possess more medical marijuana than most states. In fact, the law states that they may possess a “60-day supply” of marijuana and this amount was not specified until a decade later. In 2008, the state officially defined a 60-day supply as being no more than 24 ounces of usable marijuana and/or 15 plants.
  • The Washington Department of Health was only instructed to determine the 60-day supply and study issues related to access to medical marijuana. That has mostly been the extent of state involvement with the program.
  • Due to the lack of a registry there are no official statistics about medical marijuana patients. A 2009 Marijuana Policy Project estimate gave a number of 35,510 likely patients.
  • It was estimated that in 2007 there were roughly 630,000 marijuana users in the state, more than half of who were over age 26. Marijuana is also the most popular among Washingtonians aged 18 to 25, over 31% of who report cannabis use.
  • Marijuana use appears to be most prominent in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane counties.
  • It was estimated that marijuana law enforcement cost Washington taxpayers almost $170 million in 2006 alone.


  • In July of 2011, the Washington legislature attempted to change to the medical marijuana law to establish a framework to regulate marijuana dispensaries. However, because Governor Gregoire vetoed parts of the bill, the result was an effective ban of dispensaries and a confusing set of new rules.
  • The updated rules change the facts about marijuana in Washington so that patients and caregivers can grow marijuana in collective gardens of up to 10 people. Such gardens can grow up to 45 plants.
  • The law now lets local governments create their own medical marijuana regulations. The most marijuana friendly municipality has been Seattle, which explicitly has chosen to allow dispensaries to operate.
  • In November of 2011, the federal government targeted Washington dispensaries in a series of raids and shutdowns.

Washington Medical Marijuana Card


Washington Medical Marijuana Laws


**CHANGES IN 2011**

  • See 5073-S2.SL

Washington State Medical Marijuana Act

Sec. 1. TITLE.
This chapter may be known and cited as the Washington state medical use of marijuana act.

The People of Washington state find that some patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses, under their physician's care, may benefit from the medical use of marijuana. Some of the illnesses for which marijuana appears to be beneficial include chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in cancer patients; AIDS wasting syndrome; severe muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and other spasticity disorders; epilepsy; acute or chronic glaucoma; and some forms of intractable pain.

The People find that humanitarian compassion necessitates that the decision to authorize the medical use of marijuana by patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses is a personal, individual decision, based upon their physician's professional medical judgment and discretion.??Therefore, The people of the state of Washington intend that:

Qualifying patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses who, in the judgment of their physicians, would 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;??Persons who act as primary caregivers to such patients shall also not be found guilty of a crime under state law for assisting with the medical use of marijuana; and??Physicians also be excepted from liability and prosecution for the authorization of marijuana use to qualifying patients for whom, in the physician's professional judgment, medical marijuana may prove beneficial.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to supersede Washington state law prohibiting the acquisition, possession, manufacture, sale, or use of marijuana for non-medical purposes.


  •  Advising a qualifying patient about the risks and benefits of medical use of marijuana or that the qualifying patient may benefit from the medical use of marijuana where such use is within a professional standard of care or in the individual physician's medical judgment; or
  •  Providing a qualifying patient with valid documentation, based upon the physician's assessment of the qualifying patient's medical history and current medical condition, that the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the particular qualifying patient.


  •  If charged with a violation of state law relating to marijuana, any qualifying patient who is engaged in the medical use of marijuana, or any designated primary caregiver who assists a qualifying patient in the medical use of marijuana, will be deemed to have established an affirmative defense to such charges by proof of his or her compliance with the requirements provided in this chapter. Any person meeting the requirements appropriate to his or her status under this chapter shall be considered to have engaged in activities permitted by this chapter and shall not be penalized in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for such actions.
  •  The qualifying patient, if eighteen years of age or older, shall: 1. Meet all criteria for status as a qualifying patient;

Possess no more marijuana than is necessary for the patient’s personal, medical use, not exceeding the amount necessary for a sixty day supply; and Present his or her valid documentation to any law enforcement official who questions the patient regarding his or her medical use of marijuana.

The qualifying patient, if under eighteen years of age, shall comply with subsection (2) (a) and (c) of this section. However, any possession under subsection (2) (b) of this act, as well as any production, acquisition, and decision as to dosage and frequency of use, shall be the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian of the qualifying patient.The designated primary caregiver shall:

  •  Meet all criteria for status as a primary caregiver to a qualifying patient;
  • Possess, in combination with and as an agent for the qualifying patient, no more marijuana than is necessary for the patient’s personal, medical use, not exceeding the amount necessary for a sixty day supply;
  • Present a copy of the qualifying patient’s valid documentation required by this chapter, as well as evidence of designation to act as primary caregiver by the patient, to any law enforcement official requesting such information;
  • Be prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for the personal, medical use of the patient for whom the individual is acting as primary caregiver; and
  • Be the primary caregiver to only one patient at any one time.


The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise. "Medical use of marijuana" means the production, possession, or administration of marijuana, as defined in RCW 69.50.101(q), for the exclusive benefit of a qualifying patient in the treatment of his or her terminal or debilitating illness.

"Primary caregiver" means a person who:

  • Is eighteen years of age or older;
  • Is responsible for the housing, health, or care of the patient;
  • Has been designated in writing by a patient to perform the duties of primary caregiver under this chapter.

"Qualifying Patient" means a person who:

  • Is a patient of a physician licensed under chapter 18.71 or 18.57 RCW;
  • Has been diagnosed by that physician as having a terminal or debilitating medical condition;
  • Is a resident of the state of Washington at the time of such diagnosis;
  • Has been advised by that physician about the risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana; and
  • Has been advised by that physician that they may benefit from the medical use of marijuana.

"Terminal or Debilitating Medical Condition" means:

  • Cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, or spasticity disorders; or
  • Intractable pain, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean pain unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications; or
  •  Glaucoma, either acute or chronic, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean increased intraocular pressure unrelieved by standard treatments and medications; or
  • Any other medical condition duly approved by the Washington state medical quality assurance board as directed in this chapter.

"Valid Documentation" means:

A statement signed by a qualifying patient’s physician, or a copy of the qualifying patient’s pertinent medical records, which states that, in the physician’s professional opinion, the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for a particular qualifying patient; and proof of Identity such as a Washington state driver’s license or identicard, as defined in RCW 46.20.035.


  •  The lawful possession or manufacture of medical marijuana as authorized by this chapter shall not result in the forfeiture or seizure of any property.
  • No person shall be prosecuted for constructive possession, conspiracy, or any other criminal offense solely for being in the presence or vicinity of medical marijuana or it’s use as authorized by this chapter.
  •  The state shall not be held liable for any deleterious outcomes from the medical use of marijuana by any qualifying patient.


  • It shall be a misdemeanor to use or display medical marijuana in a manner or place which is open to the view of the general public.
  •  Nothing in this chapter requires any health insurance provider to be liable for any claim for reimbursement for the medical use of marijuana.
  • Nothing in this chapter requires any physician to authorize the use of medical marijuana for a patient.
  • Nothing in this chapter requires any accommodation of any medical use of marijuana in any place of employment, in any school bus or on any school grounds, or in any youth center.
  • It is a class C felony to fraudulently produce any record purporting to be, or tamper with the content of any record for the purpose of having it accepted as, valid documentation under section 6 (5) (a) of this act.
  •  No person shall be entitled to claim the affirmative defense provided in Section 5 of this act for engaging in the medical use of marijuana in a way that endangers the health or well-being of any person through the use of a motorized vehicle on a street, road, or highway.

The Washington state medical quality assurance board, or other appropriate agency as designated by the governor, shall accept for consideration petitions submitted by physicians or patients to add terminal or debilitating conditions to those included in this chapter. In considering such petitions, the Washington state medical quality assurance board shall include public notice of, and an opportunity to comment in a public hearing upon, such petitions. The Washington state medical quality assurance board shall, after hearing, approve or deny such petitions within one hundred eighty days of submission. The approval or denial of such a petition shall be considered a final agency action, subject to judicial review.

If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.


Captions used in this chapter are not any part of the law.

Sec. 12.
Sections 1 through 11 of this act constitute a new chapter in Title 69 RCW.

Council Bill Number: 117229.
Ordinance Number: 123661.
AN ORDINANCE relating to medical cannabis or medical cannabis products, and the regulation thereof within the City of Seattle..
Status: Passed as amended.
Date passed by Full Council: July 18, 2011.
Vote: 8-0 (Excused: Licata).
Date filed with the City Clerk: July 21, 2011.
Date of Mayor's signature: July 21, 2011.
Date introduced/referred to committee: July 11, 2011.
Committee: Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture.
Sponsor: LICATA.
Committee Recommendation: Pass.
Date of Committee Recommendation: July 13, 2011.
Committee Vote: 4 (Licata, Clark, Harrell, Rasmussen) - 0.
(No indexing available for this document).
Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note to Council Bill 117229.
Electronic Copy: PDF scan of Ordinance No. 123661.

AN ORDINANCE relating to medical cannabis or medical cannabis products, and the regulation thereof within the City of Seattle. WHEREAS, federal law prohibits the production, processing, and dispensing of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products, and strict sentencing guidelines enhance the penalties for violations of more than 99 plants or within 1,000 feet of school; and WHEREAS, state law strictly enhances the penalties for violations of the Controlled Substances Act for violations within 1,000 feet of a school; and WHEREAS, in 1998 the State of Washington approved the medical use of cannabis by patients with certain medical conditions and now several other states allow for the medical use of cannabis; and

WHEREAS, in 2011 the Washington State Legislature passed ESSSB5073 which permits collective gardens by qualified patients and/or their designated providers whereby they may, consistent with state law, collectively grow cannabis for their own medical use; and WHEREAS, in 2011 the Washington State Legislature passed ESSSB5073 which permits cities to regulate and license the production, processing, or dispensing of cannabis or cannabis products within their jurisdiction; and

WHEREAS, in 2011 Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law some portions of ESSSB5073, described above, to take effect on July 22, 2011; and WHEREAS, there are now numerous medical cannabis dispensaries within the City of Seattle, many of which comply with local laws and regulations and peacefully provide care to qualified patients; and WHEREAS, the City of Seattle and Seattle voters, who enacted Initiative 75 on September 16, 2003, have made the investigation and prosecution of cannabis violations a low priority; and

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle expects the Seattle Police Department to continue to provide balanced and measured enforcement of established Medical Cannabis enforcement policy, in compliance with state and local laws; and WHEREAS, based on an estimate that four to five percent of Seattle residents, like in other jurisdictions, are medical cannabis users, Seattle may have over 25,000 patients using medical cannabis; and


Section 1. The medical use of cannabis under Chapter RCW 69.51A shall be conducted in compliance with all local laws and regulations applicable to similar activities.

Section 2. Any manufacture, production, processing, possession, transportation, delivery, dispensing, application, or administration of cannabis, that qualifies as the medical use of cannabis under Chapter RCW 69.51A, shall not exempt any person from complying with requirements of any applicable law of the City of Seattle, including but not limited to:

A. The requirements to obtain a business license for engaging in business in the City of Seattle as set forth in Seattle Municipal Code ("SMC")

5.55.030, and to report and/or pay all applicable taxes and fees; and
B. Requirements of the City's Land Use Code as set forth in SMC Title 23, including any and all requirements for land use permits; and
C. Requirements of the City's Historic Preservation, Environmental Protection, and Noise laws as set forth in SMC Title 25; and
D. Requirements of the Building, Construction, Grading, Housing, Electrical, Plumbing, Fuel Gas, Boiler and Pressure Vessel, Plumbing, Fire, Energy and
Stormwater Codes as set forth in SMC Title 22; and
E. Requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
F. Requirements of the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health for food service and food handling as set forth in SMC Title 10; and
G. Requirements of the City's Chronic Nuisance Property laws as set forth in SMC Title 10; and
H. Requirements of the City's Street and Sidewalk Use Code as set forth in SMC Title 15; andI.
Requirements of the City's Fair Employment Practices regulations as set forth in SMC Chapter 14.04.

Section 3. The issuance of a business license pursuant to SMC 5.55.030, or the issuance of any other permit or license by the City, shall not be deemed as approval or permission from the City of Seattle to engage in any activity deemed illegal under any applicable law, nor shall it constitute a determination by the City that the manufacture, production, processing, possession, transportation, delivery, dispensing, application, or administration of and use of cannabis engaged in by the licensee or permittee is either legal or illegal under state or federal law.

Section 4. The medical use of cannabis shall not exempt any person from complying with any no smoking law.

Section 5. The open use and display of cannabis is prohibited by RCW 69.51A.060.

Section 6. Community members seeking to complain about non-emergency problems at a medical cannabis facility in their neighborhood may do so by contacting the City of Seattle Customer Service Bureau. Emergencies and crime in progress should be reported to 9-1-1. Regulatory agencies should report non-compliant owners, operators and properties to the City of Seattle Code Compliance Team or similar interdepartmental code enforcement work group to insure a coordinated and thoughtful City response.

Section 7. This ordinance shall take effect and be in force 30 days after its approval by the Mayor, but if not approved and returned by the Mayor within ten days after presentation, it shall take effect as provided by Seattle Municipal Code Section 1.04.020.

Washington Medical Marijuana Qualification

Who Qualifies for Medicinal Marijuana in Washington

On November 3, 1998, 59% of Washington voters approved Measure 692, which removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of medical marijuana (also referred to as medical weed, medical pot or medical cannabis) by patients who possess "valid documentation" from their physician affirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating condition and that the "potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks." Patients who possess larger quantities of cannabis than those approved by the Department will continue to receive legal protection under Washington's medical marijuana law if they present evidence indicating that they require such amounts to adequately treat their qualifying medical condition. Read the full text of the Washington State Medical Marijuana Act here.


  • Must be a resident of Washington with a valid Washington I.D. as proof of residency.
  • Obtain a copy of your medical records indicating diagnosis of a qualifying condition, as listed below. Learn how to request your medical records and remember to bring these records with you to your marijuana evaluation appointment.Must have a formal statement signed by a Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), registered nurse practitioner, naturopathic physician, medical physician assistant, or osteopathic physician assistant currently licensed to practice medicine in Washington. Find a medical marijuana doctor in Washington here.


Patients in Washington diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under the Washington Medical Marijuana law:

  •  Cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, or spasticity disorders;
  • Intractable pain;
  • Glaucoma, either acute or chronic;
  • Crohn's Disease;
  • Hepatitis C; or
  • Any disease, including anorexia, which results in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, and/or spasticity, when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments.


Some medical marijuana patients will claim they have a doctor's prescription for medical marijuana, but marijuana prescriptions are in fact illegal. The federal government classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug. Therefore doctors are unable to prescribe marijuana to their patients, and medical marijuana patients cannot go to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for medical marijuana. Instead, medical marijuana physicians will supply patients with a medical marijuana recommendation in compliance with state law.

According to Washington medical marijuana laws, patients and their caregivers may grow medical marijuana for the patient's private use and may possess a "sixty-day supply." While Washington's original medical marijuana laws do not include provisions for the selling or distributing of medical cannabis, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn signed a new law in July 2011 that will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to be regulated in Seattle like any legal business. Please note that your recommendation is valid as long as your physician deems necessary.


Mailing Address:
Washington State Department of Health
1112 SE Quince St.
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, WA 98504-7890
Phone Number:
(800) 525-0127 or (360) 236-4052

Washington Medical Marijuana

Washington Medical Marijuana Laws, Washington Medical Marijuana Qualifications and General Washington Marijuana Information The State of Washington has a legalized medical marijuana program, which allows legal medical marijuana patients to receive a marijuana recommendation from a certified physician, apply for a State-issued Washington Medical Marijuana ID Card, and grow and/or purchase marijuana for medicinal use per state guidelines. We have compiled the following index of medical marijuana information in Washington to serve as a legal library to our users for legal reference of Washington's laws and guidelines regarding Medical Cannabis.

Please note that in order to become a legal medical marijuana patient you must first have a qualifying condition as outlined by the department of health services and/or department of justice. For a comprehensive list of Washington's medical marijuana qualifying conditions you can visit our qualifying conditions section located on the top of our menu under "legal states".

Since the Washington medical marijuana program is still changing their laws and new Washington medical marijuana laws are being enacted on a monthly basis, please be sure to visit our site frequently to get the most updated laws as it pertains to the Washington medical marijuana program. Please click a corresponding link to find out more about your Washington's Medical Marijuana Program.


Find out Who Qualifies for Marijuana in Washington in our definitive guide of Washington's qualification guidelines. Read up on medical conditions that are covered under Washington's medical marijuana program, age restrictions, criminal conviction restrictions, and more.


Read Washington's Full Medical Marijuana Laws to gain full specific knowledge of Washington's exact legal guidelines without interpretation. We suggest that you print Washington's Full Medicinal Marijuana Laws for use with our MyDoc program in order to provide your physician full insight into Washington's laws for his knowledge.


Find out how to obtain a{n} Washington Medical Marijuana Card with our guide to Washington's state medicinal marijuana ID program. Some states require that you obtain your card prior to obtaining your medicine, so read here first to ensure that you know Washington's requirements.

Medical Marijuana 411 Emily Sander - Lymphoma Cancer Survivor

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