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Despite legalization, growing marijuana in Washington is a crime

Washington state joined a growing minority of states when voters approved I-502 in 2012. This initiative created a regulated recreational marijuana industry in the state to complement the existing medical marijuana industry. Overall, this move has been successful at decreasing non-violent, marijuana-related arrests and increasing tax revenue for the state.

However, there is still much confusion among the public about what is legal and what is not. Some people confuse the medical marijuana rules with the recreational marijuana laws. That mistake could lead someone to engage in behavior that is actually illegal without realizing it. People can still go to jail for marijuana in Washington, especially if they grow the plant.

Recreational adult sales limited in scope and size

In order to reduce the potential risk for sale of regulated marijuana products on the unregulated market, the law includes several important limits on how an adult in Washington can access marijuana. Recreational users may not grow their own marijuana. More importantly, they cannot buy their marijuana or marijuana-infused products from just anyone. Only licensed and regulated retail stores can provide consumers with legal marijuana.

Buyers should also understand purchasing limits. Adults who are at least 21 years old can buy up to an ounce of natural state marijuana, 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused foods, 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids, like soda, or up to seven grams of marijuana concentrates. People cannot resell these items after purchasing them.

No growing is allowed under the recreational law

The average marijuana user in Washington cannot simply grow one's own marijuana to keep prices low. There are no allowances in the recreational use law for home cultivation. Instead, only licensed growers may produce the marijuana legally used and sold in retail stores.

Medical marijuana patients are the only ones with the right to grow their own marijuana. A patient with a qualifying condition and a current registration in the state's patient database can legally grow up to six plants at home for medical use. Medical patients can also posses up to eight ounces of marijuana at any given time. Those with a qualifying condition who are not in the state database may grow up to four plants at once in their homes.

In some cases, the right to grow more plants is possible. If a physician orders that a patient has higher need than that, however, some patients can legally grow up to 15 plants at the same time.

Cultivation is a felony offense

For those who do not qualify for protection under Washington's medical marijuana act, growing marijuana at home is a serious offense. In fact, it can result in felony charges that carry up to five years in prison and a fine of as much as $10,000.

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