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Voters in Washington passed a law that will legalize recreational marijuana use. Now the Seattle Police Department has issued a marijuana guide on just what will (and will not) be legal.
While the guide, called "Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle," provides some basic bright-line rules for residents in the city, individuals should not rely on it as an affirmative defense to all marijuana-related charges. This is especially true if you get busted by federal authorities, as pot remains illegal under federal law. Or if you don't live in Seattle.
Washington's marijuana law takes effect Dec. 6. Meantime, here's a look at the Seattle PD's "Marijwhatnow" guide and some key points you should remember.
The basic right given under Initiative 502 is that adults 21 years of age or older can possess and smoke marijuana for recreational purposes. With that said, there are many fine points to the law and many areas that still require hammering out by lawmakers.
First of all, just because Washingtonians will be able to use marijuana, this does not mean that you can go out and carry around pounds of the stuff. Instead, individuals are limited to possessing one ounce of marijuana or less.
And while the law does say that growing of marijuana may be legal, lawmakers have still not finalized regulations and the requirements to grow it. So currently, it remains illegal to grow pot in your backyard.
In addition, the state is also working out on who can actually sell marijuana and how to go about getting a license. Since tax revenue was also a big motivator for passing the initiative, it's still not clear how much legalized marijuana will cost and what it will be taxed at.
In the meantime, the good news for some who have been busted for pot possession is that you may get off the hook even before the law takes effect. King and Pierce Counties have already dismissed more than 200 pending pot cases for those whose actions would have been legal under Initiative 502.
If you have general questions about marijuana use in Washington, you can ask a question on our FindLaw Answers Criminal Law Forum. If you have been charged with a pot-related offense, you'll want to talk to a criminal defense attorney to learn how the new law affects you.