Washington Medical Marijuana Laws and Regulations Washington Medical Marijuana Laws

In November 1998, Ballot Initiative I-692 was approved and made effective, removing state-level criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana by patients who possessed “valid documentation” from their physicians that the patient suffers from a debilitating condition and could benefit from the medical use of marijuana. Over time, the rules were amended to include certain approved medical conditions.

In 2012, Ballot Initiative 502 was approved by voters, allowing the state to legally license and regulate marijuana production, distribution and possession for persons over 21 years of age. The Department of Health confirmed that this did not amend or repeal the medical marijuana laws in any way.

In 2015, SB 5052 (Cannabis Patient Protection Act) was passed during the 2015 legislative session, with its biggest changes taking place July 2016.  The bill established a medical marijuana registry, in which patients may voluntarily register and be granted certain benefits, such as greater legal protections from law enforcement, tax breaks on purchase of cannabis, and increased limits for cannabis.  Patients who hold valid authorizations to use medical marijuana but do not register will still have an affirmative defense to criminal prosecution if they possess no more than 4 plants and 6 oz. of useable marijuana.  Non-registered patients may purchase medical marijuana only in accordance with the laws and rules for non-patients.  In addition, this SB 5052 also requires medical marijuana dispensaries to be state-licensed to continue operation.

Law

Ballot Initiative I-692 (1998) - removed state-level criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana by patients who possessed “valid documentation” from their physicians that the patient suffers from a debilitating condition and could benefit from the medical use of marijuana.

Ballot Initiative I-502 (2012) – allows the state to legally license and regulate marijuana production, distribution and possession for persons over 21 years of age

SB 5052 (Cannabis Patient Protection Act) (2015) – established a medical marijuana registry and requires medical marijuana dispensaries to be state-licensed

Chapter 69.50 RCW - Uniform Controlled Substances Act

Chapter 69.51A RCW - Medical Cannabis State Law

Chapter 246-71 WAC – Authorization database rules

Chapter 246-72 WAC – Certified consultant rules

Chapter 246-70 WAC – Emergency rule

Chapter 314-55 WAC – Marijuana licenses, application process, requirements and reporting

Patients

  • Must be in the care of a licensed health care professional, defined as a physician, physician’s assistant, naturopath or advanced registered nurse practitioner
  • Must be diagnosed with a terminal or debilitating medical condition
    • The condition must be:
      • Severe enough to significantly interfere with activities of daily living and ability to function; and
      • Objectively assessed and evaluated by the licensed health care professional
  • Must be a resident of the state of Washington at the time of diagnosis
  • Must be advised by health care professional of potential benefits of medical marijuana
  • Must be advised by health care professional about the risks and benefits of medical marijuana
  • Must have either:
    • Authorization form from patient’s health care professional; or
    • A recognition card after patient has been registered into the medical marijuana authorization database
  • Authorizations expire in one year for adult patients and six months for minor patients (under 18 years of age).
  • Additional requirements for minor patients:
    • Must ensure the minor patient’s parent or legal guardian participates in the treatment and consents to medical use of marijuana
    • Must have the minor patient’s parent or legal guardian act as the designated provider for the minor patient with sole control over the minor patient’s marijuana
    • Must have both the minor patient and the minor patient’s parent or legal guardian acting as designated provider entered into the database and hold a recognition card
    • Must not have the minor patient grow plants or purchase marijuana/marijuana products from a marijuana retailer
  • Possession Amounts:
    • Qualified Patients with a Recognition Card:
      • May purchase sales-tax free any combination of the following from a licensed marijuana store with a medical endorsement:
        • 3 oz. usable marijuana;
        • 48 oz. marijuana-infused product in solid form;
        • 216 oz. marijuana-infused product in liquid form; or
        • 21 grams marijuana concentrate
      • May grow in their home or as a member of a cooperative:
        • 6 plants for personal medical use; and
        • 8 oz. usable marijuana produced from their plants
        • Note: If the patient’s healthcare practitioner determines the patient requires more than the above amount, they may authorize:
          • Up to 15 plants for personal medical use; and
          • Up to 16 oz. usable marijuana produced from their plants.
      • Note: No more than 15 plants may be grown or located in any one housing unit, even if multiple qualifying patients or designated providers reside in the housing unit. The only exception is for cooperative gardens.
    • Qualified Patients with Authorization Form only (no Recognition Card):
      • May purchase only the amounts allowed for non-patients from a licensed retail marijuana store:
        • 1 oz. usable marijuana;
        • 16 oz. marijuana-infused product in solid form;
        • 72 oz. marijuana-infused product in liquid form; or
        • 7 grams of marijuana concentrate
      • May grow in their home:
        • 4 plants for personal medical use; and
        • 6 oz. usable marijuana produced from their plants.
      • Note: Patients who aren’t entered into the database are limited to 4 plants and 6 oz. of usable marijuana even if a higher number of plants is indicated on their authorization form.

Recommending Clinicians

  • Must be one of the following and licensed to practice in the State of Washington:
    • Medical doctor (MD)
    • Physician assistant (PA)
    • Osteopathic physician (DO)
    • Osteopathic physician assistant (DOA)
    • Naturopathic physician
    • Advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP)
  • Must issue authorization on a form approved by the Department of Health that is printed on tamper-resistant paper
  • Must have newly initiated or documented relationship with patient
  • Must complete physical exam as appropriate, based on patient’s condition and medical history
  • Must document in the patient’s record the terminal or debilitating condition, and that the patient may benefit from treatment of the condition or its symptoms with the medical use of cannabis
  • Must advise patient about risks and benefits of medical marijuana, and document such discussion in the patient’s record
  • Must inform the patient of other options to treat the medical condition and document attempts to treat the condition without cannabis
  • Must not have a practice that consists solely to authorize medical cannabis
  • Must not examine patients where cannabis is produced, processed or dispensed
  • Must not solicit or accept payment to or from any dispensary, producer or processor
  • Must not offer a discount or other financial reward to patients for their patronage of a dispensary, producer or processor
  • Must not hold an economic interest in an enterprise that produces, processes, or sells marijuana, if the health care professional is authorizing medical use of marijuana
  • The board of naturopathy, board of osteopathic medicine and surgery, medical quality assurance commission, and nursing care quality assurance commission must develop continuing education programs related to medical use of marijuana for the health care professionals that they regulate
  • Authorizations expire in one year for adult patients and six months for minor patients (under 18 years of age).
  • Additional requirements for minor patients:
    • Must ensure the minor patient’s parent or legal guardian participates in the treatment and consents to medical use of marijuana
    • Must consult with other healthcare providers involved in the minor patient’s treatment, as medically indicated, before authorization or reauthorization of medical use of marijuana
    • Must re-examine the minor patient at least once every six months, or as medically indicated:
      • Must determine that the minor patient continues to have a qualifying medical condition and that the condition benefits from medical use of marijuana
      •  Must include a follow-up discussion with the minor patient’s parent or legal guardian to ensure the parent or legal guardian continues to participate in treatment

Designated Providers

  • Must be 21 years of age or older
  • Must be either:
    • The parent or legal guardian of a qualifying patient that is a minor and must hold a recognition card; or
    • Designated in writing by the qualifying patient (if over 18 years of age) to serve as a designated provider
  • Must obtain either:
    • An individual authorization from the patient’s authorizing health care professional separate from the patient; or
    • A recognition card, after being entered into the medical marijuana authorization database as a designated provider
  • Must not consume marijuana obtained for the medical use of the qualifying patient being cared for by the designated provider
  • Must provide marijuana to only the qualifying patient being cared for by the designated provider
  • Must not be a designated provider to more than one patient at any one time
  • Must not possess more marijuana than the amounts allowed by law
    • If a person is both a qualifying patient and a designated provider for another qualifying patient, then that person may not possess more than twice the amounts allowed by law
  • Possession Amounts:
    • Designated Providers with a Recognition Card:
      • May purchase sales-tax free any combination of the following from a licensed marijuana store with a medical endorsement:
        • 3 oz. usable marijuana;
        • 48 oz. marijuana-infused product in solid form;
        • 216 oz. marijuana-infused product in liquid form; or
        • 21 grams marijuana concentrate
      • May grow in their home or as a member of a cooperative:
        • 6 plants for personal medical use; and
        • 8 oz. usable marijuana produced from their plants
        • Note: If the patient’s healthcare practitioner determines the patient requires more than the above amount, they may authorize:
          • Up to 15 plants for personal medical use; and
          • Up to 16 oz. usable marijuana produced from their plants.
      • Note: No more than 15 plants may be grown or located in any one housing unit, even if multiple qualifying patients or designated providers reside in the housing unit. The only exception is for cooperative gardens.
    • Designated Providers with Authorization Form only (no Recognition Card):
      • May purchase only the amounts allowed for non-patients from a licensed retail marijuana store:
        • 1 oz. usable marijuana;
        • 16 oz. marijuana-infused product in solid form;
        • 72 oz. marijuana-infused product in liquid form; or
        • 7 grams of marijuana concentrate
      • May grow in their home:
        • 4 plants for personal medical use; and
        • 6 oz. usable marijuana produced from their plants.
      • Note: Designated providers who aren’t entered into the database are limited to 4 plants and 6 oz. of usable marijuana even if a higher number of plants is indicated on their authorization form.

Cooperatives

  • Up to 4 qualifying patients or designated providers may become members of a cooperative
  • All members must hold valid recognition cards
  • All members must be at least 21 years of age
    • The designated provider of a qualifying patient under 21 years of age may be a member of a cooperative on the patient’s behalf
  • All plants grown in the cooperative must be purchased or cloned from a plant purchased from a licensed marijuana producer
  • Must register the location of the cooperative with the state liquor and cannabis board
    • Must grow or process marijuana only in this location
    • Must list the names of all participating members and copies of each members’ registration card when registering the cooperative
  • Must be located at the domicile of one of the members
  • Must keep a copy of each members’ recognition card at cooperative location at all times
  • Must not be located in any of the following areas:
    • Within 1 mile of a marijuana retailer
    • Within the smaller of either:
      • 1000 ft. from any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or any game arcade that is not restricted to persons over 21 years of age; or
      • As restricted by local ordinance, if available
    • Where prohibited by a city, town or county zoning provision
  • Must limit garden to the total amount of plants authorized for each participating member, not to exceed a maximum of 60 plants total
  • Must limit possession of cannabis to what is produced from the plants, not to exceed a maximum of 72 oz.
  • Members must not participate in more than one cooperative
  • Members must not grow plants outside of the cooperative
  • Members must provide non-monetary resources and labor to the cooperative
  • Must not sell, donate or otherwise provide marijuana or marijuana infused products to a person that is not authorized as a qualifying patient or designated provider

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