Washington has one of the most liberal laws on marijuana in the country, and since 1998, the medical use of marijuana in the state has been legal, and the recreational use of marijuana and its sale has been legal since 2012 for adults over 21 years of age.
Medical Marijuana Laws of Washington
On November 3, 1998, marijuana for medical use has become legal in the state of Washington. The case for the legalization of medical marijuana was included in the electoral ballots of November 1998. It was referred to as the Ballot Measure 692. The voters of Washington approved it by 59%. Hence, the medical marijuana law of Washington was enacted then. On July 1, 2008, the 1998 law was updated and on November 8 of the same year, it was again updated. The updated law basically removes statewide limitations and prohibitions on the medical use of marijuana for some debilitating conditions that are stipulated in Chapter 69.51A RCW.
Drug Possession Laws of Washington
The use of marijuana for all purposes by an adult who is 21 years of age or above is legal in Washington since 2012. The legalization process started in 2011 when the initiative called the “Washington Initiative 502” was proposed to the Washington State legislature. This initiative garnered the needed signatures of 241,153; hence, the initiative appeared on the ballot of the November 2012 election. In the election, the “yes” votes won via 56-44 percentage.
This initiative legalizes the possession of small amount of marijuana products for any adult aged 21 and above. However, despite this legalization, the laws of the state still punish the violations of possession of more amount of marijuana. Here are the punishments and penalties for the following violations:
- The possession of 1 oz or less doesn’t constitute a criminal offense, and it doesn’t have concomitant penalties. However, if you are caught consuming marijuana in public with 1 oz or less, you will get civil infraction and maximum fine of $100.
- If you are caught with 1 oz to 40 g of marijuana, you will be charged with misdemeanor, 24 to 90 days of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $1,000.
- If you are caught with more than 40 g of marijuana, you will be charged with felony, 5 years of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $10,000.
- If you are caught with any amount with an intent to distribute, you will be charged with felony, up to 5 years of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $10,000.
The sale and distribution of marijuana of any amount is considered a felony, with maximum fine of imprisonment, and up to $10,000. Moreover, if you are caught selling to a minor who is at least 3 years younger, you will be charged with felony, 10 years of imprisonment, and up to $10,000 fine. The cultivation of marijuana of any amount is a felony, up to 5 years of imprisonment, plus maximum fine of $10,000. There are also some aggravating factors such as the cultivation of marijuana within 1,000 of a school, near school bus, or public park or any designated drug-free zone which may cause you double fines and imprisonment.
Can Employers Require their Employees and Applicants to Undergo Drug Tests?
Employers are neither prohibited nor restricted from conducting drug testing in the workplace. However, employers should conduct these drug tests based on certain statutory conditions: Here are some of the conditions and requirements for drug tests in the workplace:
- Employers should provide employees a 60-day notice before conducting drug tests.
- Second, employers can conduct drug tests if there is a reasonable suspicion on the inability of an employee to perform his/her duties due to the use of drug.
- In case there is an accident in the workplace that resulted into an injury, damage to properties, or death within the workplace.
- Employers likewise must provide their employees with their written substance abuse policy, and copies of this policy must be posted and distributed to the employees.
- State agencies can conduct tests, especially, if the employees are working in safety-sensitive positions.
Based on the Washington state administrative code 162-12-140, employers must conduct background screening on their applicants, and this background screening should include the checking of criminal arrests of the employees. Moreover, employers can require drug tests on applicants if they meet these two conditions: First, there must be an advanced written notice provided to the applicant; second, the applicant must have already been given provisional job offer.
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