Question: I like gardening and growing my own food on my small parcel of land near Yakima. Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Washington State, I'm wondering if I can cultivate marijuana along with my other plants. And can I sell small amounts that I grow at our local farmer's market, like I sometimes do with fruits and vegetables?
Answer: While possession of small amounts of cannabis is now legal in Washington, you're not permitted to grow it unless you are a medical user or a producer who is licensed by the state. Read on to learn more about the restrictions and requirements for cultivating marijuana in Washington.
In 2012, the states of Washington and Colorado passed laws legalizing recreational use of marijuana by adults, and several other states have followed since that time. Washington's initiative 502 legalized non-medical, recreational use of marijuana by people 21 years of age or older. However, only licensed growers, called "producers" under the law, can legally cultivate cannabis plants for recreational use in Washington.
So, while recreational use of marijuana is legal, recreational users cannot grow their own cannabis under Washington law. On the other hand, a medical marijuana patient in Washington may legally grow a limited number of plants for medicinal use. Upon the written recommendation of a physician, a person with a specified medical condition is allowed to grow up to six plants for his or her own medicinal use under Washington's medical marijuana law. No more than 15 plants may be grown in a single housing unit (such as a house, mobile home, or apartment), even if multiple medical marijuana patients live together. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 69.51A. 010, 69.51A.210, 69.51A.260 (2019).)
Production and retail of recreational marijuana in Washington are administered by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. In order to obtain a marijuana producer's license, a person must pay an application fee, an annual renewal fee, and show that the applicant and his or her property meet the requirements set out in the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board regulations. Among other conditions, a licensed producer may grow marijuana only in an enclosed area, either a greenhouse or other structure, or a field with a physical barrier that blocks the plants from public view. An applicant for a producer's license must also submit to random criminal history checks. (Wash. Admin. Code 314-55-075 (2019).)
Under initiative 502 and the Liquor and Cannabis Board regulations, only licensed retailers may sell the drug. Under the marijuana retail regulations, an applicant for a retail license must pay an application fee of $250, an annual renewal fee of $1,381, submit fingerprints for random criminal history checks, and meet various additional financial and other requirements. Licensed marijuana retailers may legally sell to buyers 21 years of age or older. (Wash. Admin. Code 314-55-079 (2019).)
Not only is it illegal for recreational users to grow and sell marijuana without a license in Washington, it's also illegal to "process" cannabis without a license. That means that under Washington's regulations you cannot legally prepare marijuana edibles or make other marijuana-infused items without a processor's license. As with the licensing of producers and retailers, the licensing of processors in Washington involves fees and detailed requirements that must be met, including the testing, packaging, and labeling of each processed item. (Wash. Admin. Code 314-55-077 (2019).)
Although you can possess marijuana for recreational use in Washington, there are a number of restrictions, as you can see. For more information, check out the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board's guide to the state's marijuana laws.