DISCLAIMER: I’M NOT A LICENSED LAWYER, I’M AN AMATEUR LAW ANALYST!
Now that Washington and Colorado have legalized recreational marijuana use, weed legalization is at the forefront of pretty much the minds of all. As a Washington native myself, I thought it would be appropriate for me to dive into Initiative 502, the marijuana legalization initiative that was recently passed and put into effect for our state, and figure out what I should know now as an individual user.
Now, I’m not a lawyer or anything, but understanding the law is a bit of a hobby of mine. I watch Judge Judy at least once a week for a clinic on how to own people in a courtroom on national TV and get paid for it. Quite inspirational.
More than that though, I think it’s our duty as citizens to understand the laws that we are being subjected to lest we be put in prison for something we didn’t know was even illegal. If you think that’s a stupid reason though, then I have to plead that in these times of marijuana legal limbo, as a marijuana user, you should at least understand basic laws regarding marijuana possession and use.
That’s why I’ve decided to read the entire initiative and extract the most significant key points. If you’re a marijuana user or grower in Washington state, this should help give you some guidance on exactly how this new marijuana law may affect your lifestyle.
The 5 Marijuana Policy Changes You Should Understand
- Marijuana is still illegal federally
Even though Washington state now says it’s legal for someone whose 21 years or older to possess and use marijuana, the Federal government has agreed to no such thing. I was also unable to find any cases of the Feds convicting individuals in the state of Washington even prior to the law passing, which means it’s likely not a high priority for them. With that said, if you keep a relatively low profile and don’t say, make a web site that teaches people how to grow weed (oops!), your risk should be minimal.
- Possession age is 21, limited to private use
When I-502 went official on December 6th, 2012, many THC enthusiasts joined underneath the Space Needle to relish in their newly reinstated right to use a product they wanted to. However, this event was still illegal even under new state statutes, but police were given instruction not to make any arrests for this occasion.Don’t expect to be able to walk down a public street smoking a joint and not potentially get questioned, fined, and/or arrested. There’s a lot of confusion and a lot of emotion related to marijuana use and possession as a crime, so it’s best not to inject yourself into a situation where you may not expect or favor the outcome.
- Driving while high is now a specifically punishable offense
Before when someone got pulled over and was suspected of being high, they would just be cited for marijuana possession or something most likely unrelated to a motor vehicle. Now though, there is specific wording to address drivers who drive while under the effects of weed.In most cases, the penalties look like they fall pretty much in line with the same kind of penalties that would occur if you were driving while impaired by alcohol. It’s not immediately clear though how they plan on testing people for marijuana since it requires a blood analysis and can’t be accurately done with a breathalyzer.I would expect that more people will probably be required to go down to the station for additional questioning, so I suggest not giving the police any reason to question your sobriety. As in, don’t drive while high. It isn’t smart for many reasons, but one selfish reason is to keep yourself out of handcuffs.
- Regulations on how marijuana will be distributed
A lot of the legislation in I-502 is focused on how the marijuana industry will be regulated. Basically, the state breaks up weed distributors into three classes: producers, processors, and retailers. Producers and processors have a lot of similarities, most specifically in that they don’t deal with end users. The can only work with state approved retailers. Likewise, retailers can’t grow their own weed, they must work with a producer or processor.While this doesn’t necessarily mean a lot to the end user, I think it’s somewhat important to understand how the system is going to work and exactly how weed is going to get from the plant to your hands.
- You still can’t grow your own weed, unless you have a medical marijuana card
One thing I was hoping they’d change is give everyone the right to grow their own supply of weed, so they didn’t have to rely on overblown prices and have to pay for the high cost of a regulated industry. Unfortunately, only those who have a doctor-approved medical marijuana license are able to grow for themselves.
My Opinion About the New Marijuana Use Law
For me, I-502 didn’t really much change my position. As a marijuana card holder myself, I already could legally possess and grow, so it’s not much of a change to me. On a societal level though, I think overall the initiative takes a great step forward towards bringing marijuana into a more prominent position in society as a tool of great inspiration, positive well-being, and enlightenment.
I do believe that the regulations that the industry is going to be subjected to are far too severe (I believe in markets that are completely unregulated). But if the Washington government wants to take 25% of the cut just so adults can make decisions about how they want to live their own lives, it’s better than where we were before when they didn’t have that option at all or they’d face unjust penalties.
I do think as marijuana users, we should all take an active role in understanding how the government chooses to intervene into the use and growing of marijuana, so that we can abide by the rules were being subjected to as well as speak up to change any unfair laws that are written into the books.
Help Support THC Digest
With the passing of the law and the holidays around the corner, now is an excellent time to buy a vaporizer especially if you’ve never tried it before. If you follow any of the links to VapeWorld and purchase a vaporizer, THC Digest will earn 15% of the commission. In other words, you get a vaporizer and THC Digest gets more money to improve the site and help pay operating costs. A win-win situation if you ask me!
If you have any questions about I-502 and want me to address them, feel free to ask below and I’ll get back to you right away with what I find.