This past April I got the chance to visit the state of Washington, one of the (7) states that currently allow stores to sell marijuana for recreational use. This was the second time I’ve been to Washington since the passing of Initiative 502 in November of 2012, and on this trip, I was able to experience what (5) years of pro-cannabis culture has done for the budding marijuana industry in the United States.
Marijuana laws in Washington State
Knowing your rights is key to a successful trip to a marijuana tourism location. The state of Washington has done a wonderful job of summarizing the guidelines for purchasing and comsuming cannabis during your stay.
- Age Limit – Only adults age 21 and older can purchase and possess marijuana.
- Purchase Limits – Adults age 21 and over can purchase up to one ounce of useable marijuana (the harvested flowers, or “bud”), 16 ounces of marijuana-infused edibles in solid form, 72 ounces in liquid form, and 7 grams of marijuana concentrates.
- Buying and Selling – Marijuana can only be sold and purchased at state-licensed retail stores. A valid photo ID is required, and no one under 21 is allowed on the retail premises. Many retail marijuana stores only accept cash.
- No Resale or Giveaways – It remains a felony for anyone who is not a licensed retailer to sell or provide marijuana to anyone else. Providing or selling marijuana to a minor under the age of 18 can result in up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Public Use – It is illegal to consume marijuana in view of the public.
- Driving – It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana if you have more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. Doing so may result in significant legal penalties.
- Travel – It is illegal to take marijuana outside of Washington. Doing so may result in significant legal penalties.
SOURCE: Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board Web site – http://lcb.wa.gov/mj-education/know-the-law
Finding a dispensary in Seattle
It’s not hard to find a dispensary for recreational marijuana in Seattle, even as you head outside of the downtown area and into the suburbs. I was staying North and East of downtown Seattle with some friends, somewhere between the port town of Ballard and Phinney Ridge. A few blocks away from the airBnB was a small shop called The Partakery, still hosting 4/20 deals a week later ($4.20/gram). Just a few blocks from that shop, my fellow travelers and I found a larger shop called Herb House, with a variety of marijuana-infused sweets and treats, as well as an impressive selection of dry herbs and pre-rolled joints. Walking around a farmer’s market while we were in Ballard, we found another dispensary called Lux, where we bought some pre-rolled products.
Like most liquor stores and head shops in the U.S., you show your ID and you are free to look around and see what the shop has to offer. No, they are not legally allowed to (nor do they) allow you to sample the products before purchasing. However, you can expect to be offered to look through a “menu” of sorts at every shop almost immediately, and these are often a large binder with lists of their products by category, with pricing by weight or unit (edibles, tinctures, and non-herb products). Unlike a liquor store, most employees of dispensaries are extremely enthusiastic about their products and have great recommendations.
Stigma of marijuana in a legal state
I felt as comfortable walking into a dispensary in Washington as I would a liquor store in my home state. It’s pretty common to smell marijuana in public, despite the now widespread use of dry herb and oil/distillate vaporizer pens that minimize the odor and provide an incognito smoking experience. Many critics of marijuana legalization and decriminalization envision cloudy streets and a perma-stoned populace, but that’s far from reality.
If you’re planning a trip to Seattle in the near future and want to experience some dispensaries, I recommend getting an airBnB instead of a hotel. There are no hotels that allow smoking cannabis or using vaporizers on-site.
Don’t go crazy at your first dispensary. One of my pals purhcased nearly half an ounce at the first shop we went to, and we had tons of marijuana left over at the end of the trip. Find places that will sell top-shelf grams, and sample those.
Try a different type or brand of edible from each shop. Options include mints, cookies, chocolates, muffins, gummies, lollipops, cakes, and more.
Obey the laws and have a good time!