Washington to Legalize Marijuana Today

Share:

December 6, 2012 - By Tommy McDonald

Washington is set to legalize the possession of marijuana for people 21 and older starting today. Colorado will follow suit once Governor Hickenlooper certifies the election results or by January 6, 2012, whichever comes first. Voters approved the ballot measures on November 6.

There are still many questions about just what Washington and Colorado’s historic laws actually do.

Can you light up anywhere? Can you grow your own? Can you pick some up at the corner store? What about driving? Should I take a trip up to Seattle now?

Luckily, Tamar Todd, DPA’s senior staff attorney put together a primer that summarizes Washington’s I-502 and Colorado’s Amendment 64 and compares the key components of both laws.

Short Summary

Washington
Legalizes the possession of marijuana for people age 21 and older under state law. Establishes a system for commercial marijuana production, processing, and distribution through private businesses specially licensed and regulated by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (this is the agency that regulates alcohol in Washington State).

Colorado
Legalizes the personal use, possession, and limited cultivation for people 21 years of age and older.  Establishes a system for commercial marijuana production processing, and distribution through private businesses specially licensed and regulated by the Colorado Department of Revenue (this is the agency that regulates alcohol, tobacco, and medical marijuana in Colorado).

Possession Limits

Washington
People age 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of usable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product sold in solid form, or 72-ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form.

Colorado
People age 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana.

Home Cultivation

Washington
Home cultivation is not legal (unless one is a medical marijuana patient).

Colorado
People age 21 and older can grow up to six marijuana plants (only three of which may be mature) in an enclosed, locked space and can possess the marijuana produced by the plants (even if in excess of one ounce).   People age 21 and older are also allowed to give away their marijuana (including marijuana they grew) to other adults who are 21 and older.  It is not legal to receive any compensation for the marijuana grown at home.

Regulated Market:  When?

Washington
By December 1, 2013, the Washington State Liquor Control Board must adopt regulations necessary to implement the regulated market. Once the regulations are enacted, there will be a clearer idea of when marijuana retailers will begin operating.

Colorado
By July 1, 2013, the Department of Revenue must adopt regulations necessary to implement the regulated marijuana market. It must begin accepting and processing applications for marijuana businesses by October 1, 2013. The department then has 90 days after receiving an application to act on it. If by October 1, 2013, the department fails to adopt regulations, an application can be submitted directly to the locality where the marijuana establishment wishes to do business and the locality can issue its own license to the applicant. Localities may prohibit the operation of marijuana establishments via an ordinance or a question on a general election ballot.

Taxes

Washington
Establishes an excise tax of 25 percent on each wholesale sale by a licensed producer, a 25 percent tax on each wholesale sale by a licensed processor, and a 25 percent tax on each retail sale of marijuana or marijuana infused products.  The Liquor Control Board shall regularly review the tax and make recommendations to the legislature.  The revenue goes to the state general fund and to substance-abuse prevention, research, education and health care.

Colorado
Directs the legislature to enact an excise tax not greater than 15% prior to January 1, 2017 and at a rate determined by the legislature thereafter.  The first $40 million in revenue annually goes to school construction. 

Impact on Medical Marijuana

Washington
No change to the existing medical marijuana law.  Patients can still cultivate, but should now also be able to buy marijuana from regulated retailers. 

Colorado
No change to the existing medical marijuana laws for patients, caregivers, and medical marijuana businesses. Medical marijuana will be exempt from the excise tax placed on non-medical marijuana.

Driving Under the Influence

Washington
Establish a new per se standard for driving under the influence of marijuana.  A person age 21 or older with five nanograms of THC per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood will be guilty of driving under the influence of drugs. Police officers still need proof of impairment to make an arrest and take a driver to a medical professional for a blood draw. For those under 21, it will be a crime to drive with any amount of active THC in one’s system.

Colorado
No change to existing law. The legislature retains the ability to develop new driving-related policies as it sees fit.

Hemp

Washington
Decriminalizes industrial hemp under state law.

Colorado
Legalizes industrial hemp under state law.  Directs the legislature to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp by July 1, 2014.

Effective date

Washington
The law takes effect on December 6, 2012.  Legal possession and the per se DUI provision will become law on that date.  The Liquor Control Board has until December 1, 2013 to promulgate rules for the regulated market.

Colorado
The law takes effect once Gov. Hickenlooper certifies the election results or by January 6, 2012, whichever comes first.  Possession and home cultivation will become legal on that date.  The Department of Revenue has until July 1, 2013 to promulgate rules for the regulated market.

Photo by Dustin Quasar.

 

View more blog posts.

Share: