The Next StepBy Stephanie Bishop
Washington went legal . . . now what? With does legalization mean for patients, non-patients and the cannabis industry? Here is a breakdown of some of the things you might expect:
Will recreational users be allowed to purchase medical cannabis from my dispensary?
Legal possession and the DUID limits—motorists with 5 nanograms or more of cannabis in their system are considered too impaired to drive—go into effect Dec. 6. This does not mean cannabis for non-medical use will be immediately available for purchase. Recreational users will not be able to go into an established access point or collective garden and purchase cannabis on this date. The Washington State Liquor Board has until Dec. 1, 2013 to define the parameters of the program allowing for state-regulated retail establishments, large-scale grow operations and processing establishments for medibles and concentrates. At this time, business owners will be able to apply for one of three licenses, retail establishment, processor or producer. Once approved, these business owners will look for commercial business properties to lease or purchase fitting the zoning restrictions defined by the Liquor Board. All this takes time.
Can I really legally possess an ounce of cannabis?
Beginning Dec. 6, police officers in this state will no longer make arrests when they find an ounce or less in a person’s possession. The Seattle Police Department recently released an official statement with a FAQ section. The department reminds citizens that while its officers will no longer make arrests for the aforementioned possession, cannabis is still considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government and illegal to possess in any amount. Seattle Police advises against bringing cannabis to any federal courthouse or onto federal property.
Seattle Police also say that between now and Dec. 6, officers will treat marijuana possession cases as the lowest priority, using citations for possessions similar to an infraction for consuming alcohol in public. Cannabis confiscated before Dec. 6 will not be returned under any circumstances.
Can I grow cannabis as a recreational user and sell it to my friends, family and co-workers?
The new law does not allow growing cannabis for non-medical purposes. Recreational users will not be permitted to grow their own cannabis or sell any to friends unless they obtain a retail license which will not be available until after December 2013.
Does the passage of I-502 directly impact qualified medical cannabis patients?
Washington’s medical marijuana laws will not change with the passing of I-502. However, medical marijuana patients are expected to be directly impacted by the I-502’s DUID provisions as they tend to maintain a high level of active THC in their systems than most recreational users. In other words, if a sober patient ends up pulled over, that patient could still be considered too medicated to drive based simply on the elevated levels of cannabis in their systems.
Speaking of cannabis and motorists, the Seattle Police Department recently published its response to the question “What happens if I get pulled over and I’m sober, but an officer or his K-9 buddy smell the ounce of Super Skunk I’ve got in my trunk?
“Under state law,” according to the department, “officers have to develop probable cause to search a closed or locked container. Each case stands on its own, but the smell of pot alone will not be reason to search a vehicle. If officers have information that you’re trafficking, producing or delivering marijuana in violation of state law, they can get a warrant to search your vehicle.”
spdblotter.seattle.gov (click on “MARIWHATNOW?”)