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Posted by Michelle Dellino | Jan 12, 2016 | 0 Comments


City Council approved rules this week that would allow more legal pot shops in Seattle. The Seattle Times describes the new proposal, driven by Mayor Ed Murray. Seattle will reduce some of the buffer zones, which are state-imposed and restrict pot businesses' proximity to sensitive areas (parks, arcades, etc.). City Council agreed to reduce these buffers from 1,000 feet to 500 in most of the city, and to 250 feet in Belltown and parts of downtown, aiming to deter illegal street dealing and make it easier for adults to buy legal marijuana. The buffer zones will remain at 1,000 feet for schools and playgrounds, per state law.

The plan also accommodates additional shops, with the goal of incorporating medical-marijuana dispensaries into the state's system for recreational stores. At the same time City Council's rules try to keep the stores from clustering in certain neighborhoods. Two pot shops may not be within 1,000 feet from each other throughout Seattle.

There are some concerns that the addition of more shops may not work out as planned. Please see the Seattle Times article for additional detail.

As accessibility increases throughout Seattle, it is a great time to remember how the law surrounding marijuana legalization applies in Washington State. Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Washington State in 2012, there have been a lot of attention on it, as well as many misconceptions and mistruths. Just because pot is legal doesn't mean it is unrestricted. In fact, it remains regulated and controlled and it is essential to understand the law.

Marijuana Law:

*In Washington State, people 21 and over can possess up to an ounce of marijuana (usable/dried). People 21 and over may also possess 16 ounces of marijuana-infused solid products or 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquid products.

*It is not legal:

  • For anyone under 21 years old to possess marijuana
  • To grow marijuana
  • To smoke or display marijuana in public
  • To sell marijuana
  • For people 21 and over to possess greater than one ounce

*The charges for marijuana possession depend on the amount you are caught with:

  • If you are caught with more than one ounce but less than 40 grams of marijuana, you could face Misdemeanor charges with penalties of up to 90 days in jail and fines of $250-500 (RCW 69.50.4014)
  • If you are caught with more than 40 grams of marijuana, you could face Class C Felony charges with penalties of up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000

*Possession with intent to distribute marijuana carries more serious penalties, and you can be charged with intent to distribute or sell even with a small quantity.

  • If you are caught with more than 40 grams of Marijuana, you could face Class C felony charges with penalties of up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $10,00          
  • If you are caught with less than 40 grams of Marijuana, you could face Class C Felony charges with penalties of up to 6 months in prison and fines up to $10,000

*There are also specific laws around driving under the influence of marijuana, in many cases making it easier to be convicted of a Marijuana DUI than it was previously. See our blog posting for more information about Marijuana DUI statute and penalty

If you are charged with a Marijuana related offense, you will need a skilled and knowledgeable attorney to help you reach the best possible defense. Please contact us today for a Free Consultation.

About the Author

Michelle Dellino

Michelle Dellino is the Managing Attorney of Dellino Law Group. The firm was founded on her belief that there is, very simply, a solution to every problem. Her personal practice focuses on complex family law matters including high conflict cases; high asset and long term marriage dissolution; cases involving business owners, IT, and medical professionals; domestic violence family law; and preparing cohabitation, prenuptial, and postnuptial agreements. Both a trained mediator and former criminal trial attorney, she has the skills and experience to take a case anywhere it needs to go, whether that is a creative settlement or intensive courtroom litigation. In her free time she chases her four dogs and two cats, loves the New York Yankees because mediocrity is not tolerated in pinstripes, and travels as often as she can.


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