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Sheriff's Home Page INET FAQ

Frequently asked questions about
Medical Marijuana in Washington State


Is medical marijuana legal in Washington? I've heard conflicting answers to this question.

  • Marijuana possession is illegal in Washington. The medical marijuana law, Chapter 69.51A RCW, provides an affirmative defense for qualified patients and designated caregivers. People who qualify have a valid reason to possess a 60-day supply of marijuana. They may use that reason to defend against a legal action taken under Washington law. However, medical marijuana is not legal under federal law. There is no affirmative defense for people who are arrested or charged under federal law.

I heard the Obama Administration has legalized medical marijuana.  Is that true?

  • No.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that have laws allowing the use of medical marijuana.  The guidelines do not legalize medical marijuana.  The president directed federal prosecutors to consider appropriate medical use when making criminal charging decisions. The guidelines only provide direction for prosecutors when reviewing medical marijuana cases. The guidelines do not change the laws in Washington State.

How can I find out if I qualify to be a medical marijuana patient?

  • Talk to your doctor. The law includes a very specific list of qualifying conditions you must have before a doctor can recommend medical marijuana.  In addition to those conditions in the law, chronic renal failure was added by petition in 2010.

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