Drug Possession – Marijuana

Washington is one of only two states in the country that has legalized the use of recreational marijuana. But, this doesn’t mean marijuana is completely unrestricted. On the contrary, it is still tightly regulated and controlled.

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You could still be arrested for a marijuana offense. Avoiding arrest and criminal prosecution can only happen when you fully understand the new law.

In Washington it is legal for an adult aged 21 or over to possess up to one ounce of (usable/dried) marijuana. You can also possess 16 ounces of marijuana-infused solid products or 72-ounces of marijuana-infused liquid products.

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It is not legal to:

  • Grow marijuana
  • Sell marijuana
  • Possess any amount greater than one ounce
  • Possess any amount if you are under the age of 21
  • Smoke or display marijuana in public

If you are caught doing any one of the following, you could face arrest.

In some jurisdictions, police officials have stated they will make all marijuana enforcement a low priority. Seattle police have been told to back off of people smoking in public and simply remind them that the new law doesn’t allow this activity. In other areas, you could be arrested for it.

Marijuana Possession – Criminal Offenses

The charges you face for a possession charge depend on the amount of marijuana you are caught with.

If you are caught with: Then you face charges of:
More than once ounce by less than 40 grams of Marijuana Misdemeanor: Up to 90 days in jail and fines of $250-500.
More than 40 grams of Marijuana Class C Felony: Up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

Ref: RCW 69.50.4014

Possession with Intent to Distribute, Distribution, Manufacturing – Laws & Penalties in WA

A more serious offense, possession with intent to distribute marijuana carries more serious penalties.

You can be charged with intent to distribute or sell even with a small quantity. The charge is subjective, and is typically based on packaging, or other circumstances that might suggest an intention to sell marijuana. We can dispute this charge in court, and argue for a reduction to simple possession.

If you are caught with: The you face charges of:
Less than 40 grams of marijuana Class C felony: Up to 6 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.
More than 40 grams of marijuana Class C felony: Up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Ref: RCW 69.50.401

Alternate Marijuana Possession Penalties in Washington

Because marijuana is considered a slightly less serious substance, you may qualify for alternative sentencing. If it appears that a conviction is likely, we may be able to get the court to sentence you to something other than incarceration.

There are drug courts and several related programs in some Washington state counties designed to keep non-violent offenders out of prison. These include:

Probation: The most common alternative to incarceration, probation allows for you to serve your sentence while in the community and under the supervision of a probation officer.

Diversion: Similar to probation in some ways, diversion allows you to complete a term of supervision while in the community. If the term is successfully completed, the charges may be dropped completely.

First Time Offender Waiver: Specifically developed for first time felony offenders, this program allows for you to complete things like community service and drug treatment in lieu of prison time.

Ref: RCW 9.94A.650

Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA): This alternative focuses on treatment for offenders that may have a drug problem. After an evaluation deems to qualified to participate, your sentence may include inpatient treatment or a lesser prison sentence paired with intensive treatment both while incarcerated and upon discharge.

Ref: RCW 9.94A.660

Free Legal Defense Consultation on a Washington State Marijuana Possession Charge

There are a wide variety of ways to challenge a marijuana possession charge in Washington. We can challenge:

  • Possession: Were you legally in possession of the pot/marijuana? Can they prove it was yours, even if it was in your house or car? Were you wearing someone else’s jacket?
  • Illegal Search: The police cannot search you without permission, a warrant, or other specific circumstances. If they violated your constitutional rights, or their own police procedures, the charge again you should be dismissed.

There are also a wide variety of sentencing alternatives possible in many Marijuana offense cases, listed above.

In order to be considered for these alternatives you must fit certain criteria as designated by the Washington criminal courts or drug courts. We can help determine if the court would see you as eligible for these alternatives.

Whatever the facts of your particular case, I know we can help you get the best possible outcome. Please call for a consultation on your marijuana case today.

photo by: iTopher
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