Can I Grow Marijuana for My Own Personal Use in Washington?

Washington became one of the first states to legalize certain recreational cannabis use, but the state continues to prohibit growing for personal, non-medical uses.

By , MSLIS · Long Island University
Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated 5/27/2022

While possession of small amounts of cannabis is legal in Washington for adults 21 and older, 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.

Is It Legal to Grow Marijuana in Washington for Recreational Use?

No. While certain recreational use of marijuana is legal, recreational users cannot grow their own cannabis under Washington law.

Initiative 502. Back in 2012, Washington's initiative 502 (I-502) legalized the 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. (See more below on producers and I-502 licenses.)

Penalties. A person who illegally grows cannabis for recreational use commits a class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

(Wash. Rev. Code §§ 69.50.204, 69.50.401(c) (2022).)

Is It Legal for Medical Marijuana Users to Grow Their Own Cannabis?

Yes, to the extent allowed by law. A medical marijuana patient in Washington may legally grow a limited number of plants for medicinal use. The amount depends on whether the qualifying patient registers in the state database. But registered or not, all patients must have a qualifying condition verified by a Washington State licensed healthcare practitioner.

Registered patients. A registered patient may grow 6 to 15 plants for their own medicinal use. The amount depends upon their doctor's recommendation. The law also allows registered patients to form cooperatives to pool resources to grow plants. Cooperatives must also be registered.

Non-registered patients. A non-registered patient may grow up to 4 plants.

Penalties. A qualifying patient who grows more plants than legally allowed or supplies marijuana to another person can face a class C felony.

More information can be found on the Washington State Department of Health website.

(Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 69.51A.010, 69.51A.210, 69.51A.240, 69.51A.250, 69.51A.260 (2022).)

What Is an I-502 Producer License?

Production of recreational marijuana in Washington is administered by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB).

In order to obtain a marijuana producer's license, a person must pay an application fee (and after that an annual renewal fee) and show that the applicant and his or her property meet the requirements set out in the LCB 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 (2022).)

Learn More

Although you can possess marijuana for recreational use in Washington, growing your own plants remains illegal, with exceptions for medical marijuana patients and those with proper state licensing. If you face criminal charges relating to illegally growing cannabis, contact a criminal defense attorney. For additional information on Washington's cannabis laws, check out the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board's guide to the state's marijuana laws.

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