Washington State has long been one of the most liberal states when it comes to marijuana use. Even before it was legalized in the state in 2012, the fines and punishments for possessing small amounts of marijuana were minimal enough that people used marijuana pretty openly. The state got even more liberal in 2012, when Initiative 502 passed. This initiative allowed the legal possession and use of marijuana, as well as set up a way to tax it in order to earn money for the state. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can just go to a local playground and start toking up. There are still a few things to consider when you’re partaking in legal weed in Washington State.
What are your rights?
In Washington State, you’re allowed to carry up to an ounce of marijuana on your person, as long as you’re 21 or older. However, it’s illegal to open a package containing marijuana in view of the general public. In a way, you should think of it in the same way you think of drinking. You can’t just crack open a beer while you’re walking down the street and start drinking it, at least in most states. If you were to, and a police officer saw you, you’d get a ticket and have to pay a fine. Keep your marijuana use private to avoid this.
Keep in mind when you’re in a private area, if smoking isn’t allowed, they mean smoking cigarettes and smoking marijuana. Nonsmoking hotel rooms and hostels are not a place where you can light up. The good news is, the law also allows you to carry up to 16 ounces of solid marijuana infused products, like cookies, brownies or candies.
When you’re trying to decide if what you’re doing is legal under Washington State marijuana law, remember that most of the time, the law mirrors that of alcohol consumption and sales. You can’t use it in public. You can’t sell it without a license and you can’t use it and drive.
But isn’t it still illegal under federal law?
Yes, marijuana remains a schedule one narcotic under federal law. This is one of the complications that has made opening dispensaries and obtaining marijuana complicated. After all, it’s illegal to grow it, and it’s illegal to import it, so how is one expected to possess it? Luckily, some loosening on the enforcement of federal law has made it easier to obtain.
In December 2014, congress enacted a law that prevents law enforcement agencies from prosecuting places that sell marijuana for medical use. Relaxed laws on when these agencies are allowed to enforce the Federal Controlled Substance law have allowed businesses to continue operating without worrying about raids and arrests.
This has had a trickle down effect on recreational facilities as well. You likely won’t have to deal with federal enforcement when you’re using weed under Washington State marijuana law. When it comes to federal enforcement, the agencies go after the growers and dispensaries. They don’t bother with the small time users who are carrying less than an ounce.
Where can you get it?
When the law initially passed in 2012, the problem most people dealt with was the fact that there were no legal dispensaries set up with which to buy marijuana and marijuana infused products. Weed was legal, but it wasn’t legally obtainable. Luckily, since that time, some savvy business owners have begun opening shop and cashing in on the new wave of demand for marijuana.
Of course, with the state dragging its feet on handing out new business licenses for shops looking to sell marijuana, demand is exceeding supply. In addition, shop owners and private individuals aren’t legally allowed to grow their own product. Again, in this, buying legal weed is a lot like buying alcohol. Generally, you can’t make your own and you can only purchase it from an establishment with a license to sell it.
Your best bet for finding a retailer during your marijuana tourism trip is to stay at a marijuana friendly hotel. The concierge in these hotels will be able to direct you to legal retailers for buying weed. Some areas in Washington, like Seattle, offer far more options for marijuana tourists. If your goal is marijuana tourism, then Seattle might be the best option for you.
Remember to bring cash. Federal banking regulations prevent people from being able to buy marijuana with a credit card, because marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Some stores might allow you to use a debit card, but many are still cash only businesses. Remember to stop at the ATM on your way there just in case.
Where should you stay?
Whether or not you can toke up in a hotel room is still a hazy issue in Washington State. A smell complaint will get the front desk knocking at your door and might even get you booted from the premises. The options here are to use edibles, find yourself a nice vaporizer, or find a hotel that is friendly to weed smokers.
In Seattle, the Bacon Mansion, Bed Baked and Beyond, the Seattle Bed and Breakfast and even the Warwick Hotel have been noted to be marijuana friendly establishments. They allow marijuana use in guest rooms. Considering the fact that your next door neighbors are probably smoking pot too, you won’t have to worry about any smell complaints.
The Spokane area offers the 1899 House B&B, and the River House B&B as marijuana tourism friendly hotels. As this type of marijuana tourism grows, it’s likely that more places in Washington State will jump on board. When in doubt, check out places online that cater to marijuana tourism in order to find a hotel that is friendly to the new laws. It never hurts to ask when you’re calling for a reservation.
The legalization of recreational marijuana has created a booming industry known as marijuana tourism. As a result, there are many companies that cater to those specific individuals looking for legal places to use marijuana. Washington State offers many options for individuals who want to enjoy this type of tourism. It’s simply a matter of researching before you go and asking the right questions. Above all, don’t forget to make a reservation! Chances are those marijuana friendly hotels are seeing a lot of new bookings.