Marijuana, as you know, is legal for adults to purchase and consume in Washington state. Initiative 502, which was passed by voters in November 2012, legalized small amounts of marijuana for those 21 and older.
Marijuana is not, however, legal at the federal level, and that can create some sticky legal situations locally.
For starters, smoking pot is not allowed on most college campuses. Universities that receive federal funding don’t want to jeopardize that income by allowing something that’s illegal under federal law. Western Washington University, for example, has stated that because it receives federal funds for student financial assistance, grants and other programs, the university is required to “enforce federal laws regarding substance use and possession.”
Banking can be a real challenge for anyone involved in the marijuana business. Recently, the Associated Press detailed the dangers of handling lots of cash ― marijuana is a booming business, after all ― without being able to use the services of most banks. Federal law prohibits most banks from dealing with marijuana money, so only a few small banks and credit unions are options. Tax offices still want their money, though, and that can mean driving to the tax office with trunkloads of cash. The federal government also frowns on the use of credit cards in marijuana purchases, so many marijuana stores accept only cash as a form of payment.
It is illegal to take marijuana across state lines. Recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon, too, but that doesn’t make it OK to take your weed there. The interstate transport of a federally banned substance is a crime. It may not be worth the feds’ time to make an arrest, but it’s still illegal.
According to the Washington Liquor Control Board, federal authorities may enforce federal law ― by seizing marijuana or pursuing federal prosecution ― anywhere within the state, but especially on federal property, including national parks and forests, federal buildings and military bases. Federal marijuana law also is likely to be enforced on navigable waters, at or near the U.S. border with Canada, on the coast, at airports and at seaports.
General rules regarding the consumption of marijuana are similar to those regarding alcohol. It is illegal to smoke, ingest or vaporize marijuana products in public view, such as in parks, on hiking trails and on the sidewalk. It’s also illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana (the legal standard is five or more nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood). As with alcohol, it’s illegal to have an open package of marijuana or a product containing marijuana within the area of the vehicle that’s occupied by the driver and passengers. If the package is open, put it in the trunk.
For more information on rules regarding marijuana in Washington state, or for help quitting the use of marijuana, contact the helpful experts at Bostec. We offer DIY drug screening kits along with in-office drug testing for teens and others.