Last Update: July 8, 2014

Retail marijuana sales begin in Washington

On Tuesday, July 8, two dozen retail marijuana establishments across the state of Washington opened their doors and began selling marijuana to adults 21 and older. Washington now joins Colorado as the only two jurisdictions with regulated and taxed markets for marijuana sales to adults.

Doors opened 20 months after an overwhelming majority of Washington voters decided that it was time to end the failed experiment of marijuana prohibition. By a 55% to 45% margin, voters chose to treat marijuana like alcohol. The state has enacted common sense regulations to ensure safety and to prevent access by youths. Washington has also imposed an excise tax scheme ensuring the state, not criminals, benefit from responsible use.

While Washington’s marijuana regulation law — which was spearheaded by New Approach Washington and went into effect on December 6, 2012 —  protects adults 21 and older in the Evergreen State from being arrested for possession and private use of up to an ounce of marijuana, it does nothing to address those under 21. These individuals still face criminal penalties for the simple possession of marijuana. According to the ACLU, blacks in Washington are over two and a half times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession than whites. Email your legislators  and urge them to support legislation that makes marijuana possession by individuals under 21 subject to a civil fine, not jail time.

Washington Legislature adjourns without passing medical marijuana proposal

The Washington Legislature has adjourned for the year without passing legislation modifying the state’s medical marijuana law. While the state was preparing for retail marijuana stores to start operating in the summer, lawmakers debated whether to bring the medical marijuana law in line with the provisions of I-502.

Lawmakers had to decide between the federal concerns of bringing the medical marijuana system under a clear regulatory framework and the concerns patients and caregivers expressed about the legislation offered. Ultimately, the legislature failed to pass a bill, leaving the issue for a future session. The last time the legislature tried to create this structure for the medical marijuana program was back in 2011, but the law was gutted by then-Gov. Christine Gregoire, who vetoed the portions of the law that would have regulated dispensaries and given patients ID cards and protection from arrest.

Stay Connected

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and all of our allies. If you have questions about marijuana policy reform in Washington, please contact us by email at state@mpp.org for more information. Don't forget to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service, if you haven't done so already.







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