Six Rules for Visiting Washington Dispensaries

One of the top attractions for out-of-state tourists in Washington is a visit to the weed dispensary. Washington was one of the first states to fully legalize recreational marijuana and has one of the most well-established programs. But, legal weed doesn’t mean a free for all. Taking some time to familiarize yourself with local laws can keep legal issues from ruining your stay.

1. 21 and older only.

Washington’s age limits for marijuana are the same as those for alcohol. You cannot purchase or possess marijuana unless you are 21 or over. Additionally, only people 21 and up can visit Washington dispensaries. So, if you are not quite of age yet, you’ll have to delay your dispensary visit till next time.

2. Marijuana is not for public use.

Yes, it’s exciting to walk out of a dispensary with a bag full of goodies. But, wait until you are back in private before you partake. It is illegal to consume marijuana in view of the public in Washington.

Smoking in public in most places can result in a ticket or a fine. If you are caught with marijuana on federal lands, the penalty can be steeper. Penalties range from getting a citation to losing your license to being assigned community service hours. Many ski slopes in Washington are on federal land, so double check before you toke.

And, double-check the rules at your hotel or AirBnb, as well. If you are in a non-smoking room or building, you could wind up with a hefty cleaning fee to pay.

3. Buying and selling is only legal at licensed stores.

Black market weed purchased outside a dispensary is still illegal in Washington state. To make sure you stay within the confines of the law, only buy marijuana products from state-licensed dispensaries.

Remember to bring valid photo ID along when you visit. You’ll need to show proof of age to be admitted to the store. And, check with the dispensary in advance regarding methods of payment. Some take electronic payments through apps like Square. A few accept cryptocurrency. But, you will also encounter many dispensaries that only take cash due to federal banking rules.

4. Be aware of purchase and possession limits.

It can be easy to get carried away the first time you have an opportunity to legally purchase marijuana. If you are visiting multiple dispensaries, make sure that your total purchases never exceed the state possession limits.

Anyone who is 21 or older can legally purchase up to an ounce of flower at a time. The limit for edibles is 16 ounces. You can have up to 72 ounces liquid (such as a marijuana-infused soda) and up to seven grams of concentrate. Having more than the legal quantity could get you nailed for intent to distribute, which can result in hefty fines or even jail time.

5. Don’t toke and drive.

Just as it is illegal to consume alcohol and then operate a motor vehicle, it is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis. A person with more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood in their system can be charged with a DUI. Driving under the influence can result in heavy fines, suspension of your license or even jail time.

Whenever you are indulging, be sure that you have a ride home. This is especially important with unfamiliar products or items like edibles. You can find yourself far more intoxicated than you planned if you are not used to these products. Play it safe and call a cab.

6. You can’t take it with you.

As much as we’d all love to take it home as a souvenir, you cannot travel out of state with marijuana. Crossing state lines with marijuana, even into another legal state, is against the law. Buy just what you can use during your stay. Marijuana taken over state lines can lead to federal charges, which is not a fun way to end your vacation.

While there are many rules and regulations related to legal weed, following them isn’t difficult. As long as you are calm, discreet, and aware of the rules, there is no reason to be worried about buying marijuana in Washington. Stay aware, be respectful, and enjoy what the state has to offer.