In 2012, Washington state made history by legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. However, the use of this drug is not legal federally, and the exact laws of how people can use the substance in Washington has not been made clear to citizens.
Now, two years later, dispensaries sell marijuana in Washington state; however, these stores only sell to people with a “green card,” which means they have medical conditions that will be helped by using the drug.
While in Colorado, the other state in which marijuana is legal, has begun to sell pot to anyone 21 and over, there are yet to be places in which anyone can freely buy pot in Washington state.
“Even though pot has been legalized, it was already present and people were already using it, the law won’t change things much,” Running Start student Josiah Arnold said. “But now people are openly smoking it, and it’s not necessarily a good thing.”
Originally, when marijuana was legalized, it gave state legislation one year, until Dec. 1, 2013, to decide specific details of the laws. This involves those who could deal what as either a producer, processor or detailer of the drug.
Beginning on Nov. 18, 2013, people began applying for licenses to have one of these positions for a price ranging from $250 to $1,000, but this process isn’t quite as simple as it sounds.
This is because a limited number of licenses exist in each area of the state, and some residents don’t want marijuana to be legal in the area where they live.
In December, Pierce County revoked Executive Pat McCarthy’s veto in order to outlaw any recreational sale of pot even if the business has a state provided license.
It’s these kinds of complications along with heavy taxes on marijuana that make some people believe that illegal pot or medical marijuana businesses will be bigger than legal business once it begins.
“The legal market is going to have a hard time competing with the illegal market, but a particularly hard time competing with the untaxed, unregulated sort-of-legal market.” UCLA drug policy expert Mark Kleiman said.
Nevertheless, the act is legal despite the many complications and unclear sections in the laws about recreational pot use. People 21 and older can legally have an ounce of marijuana on their person.
As a result, acts are in the works to make the process accessible to all adults 21 and older.
“Under H.B. 2149, introduced by Rep. Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle), patients would instead obtain marijuana at the same state-licensed stores that serve recreational consumers, which will be regulated by the Washington state Liquor Control Board,” Senior Editor at Reason magazine Jacob Sullum wrote. “Those stores are expected to start opening this summer, and under Cody’s bill they would be the only commercial providers of medical marijuana as of May 1, 2015, when the provision allowing collective gardens would be repealed.”
In addition, this plan would allow people to be on a list of frequent users, which would allow them to buy up to three ounces of pot at one point in time instead of the mandated one ounce set by law.
These kinds of ideas will combine the medical and recreational pot business, making it easier for all involved.
Overall, the law that made marijuana legal in Washington state isn’t perfect, but there is hope for clarification of this law through new ideas and government programs.
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