The Status of Cannabis in Washington
Recently in Washington medical cannabis reform, HB 1563 was passed by members of the House and Senate and now heads to the Governor. House Bill 1563 provides protections for medical cannabis users in Washington. If passed, qualifying patients who hold a valid authorization but have not been entered into the medical cannabis authorization database and have not been issued a recognition card will be protected from arrest.
However, Washington’s medical cannabis is seemingly second to its recreational program, with the New York Law Journal boasting the Empire State should copy the Evergreen State, especially due to COVID-19. Between outmigration and business loss, the East Coast City needs some West Coast advice, which is to recreational cannabis.
According to the journal, $395.5 million in legal cannabis industry profits is reason enough alone to make it legal. While Washington is an example of how lucrative legalizing cannabis for recreational use can be, the state also promotes a strong medicinal program, which is tax free. Meanwhile on the verge of the November 2020 General Election, the West Coast state is once again being used as an example in a Politico report, detailing the many states with recreational use on the ballot.
“Less than a decade after Colorado and Washington pioneered the modern legalization movement,” reports Politico when discussing New Jersey, Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, and Minnesota. If all of the states vote yes to respective ballot questions, up to one-third of the U.S. will have made the recreational use of cannabis legal.
Washington has more than a dozen qualifying conditions that make residents eligible for the statewide medical cannabis program.
Patients with terminal or debilitating medical conditions may benefit from the medicinal use of marijuana under the supervision of their health care practitioners.
Terminal or chronic medical condition means a condition sufficiently severe to substantially interfere with the everyday life and functional activities of the patient, which can be measured and evaluated objectively, and limited to the following:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Epilepsy or other seizure disorder
- Spasticity disorders
- Intractable pain, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean pain unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications.
- Glaucoma, either acute or chronic, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean increased intraocular pressure unrelieved by standard treatments and medications.
- Crohn’s disease with debilitating symptoms unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
- Hepatitis C with debilitating nausea or intractable pain unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
- Diseases, including anorexia, which result in nausea, vomiting, wasting (cachexia), appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, or spasticity, when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
- Chronic renal failure requiring hemodialysis
- Traumatic brain injury
Mental health conditions do not qualify under the current laws for medical cannabis in Washington. As of 2015, patients are no longer able to petition for medical conditions to be added. Instead, adding qualifying conditions to the list require acts of the legislature to change the law.
Along with having one or more of the qualifying conditions, a patient must prove they are a Washington resident with a valid driver’s license or state identification card. The state only charges $1 to register for the statewide program, unlike most states that charge a minimum of $50 and upwards of $150.
The requirements for Washington designated providers (caregivers) are straightforward, mandating they be at least 21-years-old and a resident of the state, which must be proven with a valid driver’s license or current state identification card. Additionally, they must be listed on the patient’s medical marijuana authorization form. A designated provider (caregiver) must have their information entered into the medical marijuana database and will receive a designated provider recognition card. The medical marijuana authorization form must be fully completed and printed on tamper-resistant paper. Both the patient and caregiver each sign their own copies of this form containing the same information.
If the patient is under the age of 18, the designated provider (caregiver) must be a parent or legal guardian in addition to the rules stated above. Once approved, a caregiver can both cultivate or purchase medical cannabis on behalf of the patient only. A caregiver is not allowed to consume any medical cannabis prescribed for the patient and may only serve as a designated provider (caregiver) for one patient at a time.
How do I become a medical marijuana patient in Washington State?
In order to become a medical marijuana patient in Washington State, you need to be a Washington citizen and make an appointment with your health care provider to see whether you qualify under Washington State law.
If a healthcare professional, which you can connect with one easily through Veriheal, believes that the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes will help your medical condition, he or she can complete a medical marijuana authorization form for you.
Possession and Cultivation
A medical cannabis patient or designated caregiver is allowed to possess 1 ounce of usable cannabis, 16 ounces of cannabis-infused products in solid form, 72 ounces of cannabis-infused product in liquid form, and 7 grams of cannabis concentrate. The state also reports that “if the patient’s healthcare practitioner determines the patient requires more than the presumptive amount, they may authorize,” them to possess up to 15 plants or 16 ounces of usable cannabis from their growing plants.
Additionally, unless an area is designated as a cooperative garden, then “no more than 15 plants may be grown or located in any one housing unit even if multiple qualifying patients or designated providers reside in the housing unit,” reports the state. A cooperative allows up to four medical marijuana patients or designated providers to grow together, but they must register with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board and follow the designated laws. These laws include rules such that the cooperative can have a maximum of 60 plants that are only grown in the designated cooperative area and nowhere else.
Frequently Asked Questions
In order to become a medical marijuana patient in Washington State, you need to be a Washington resident and make an appointment with your healthcare provider to see whether you qualify under Washington State law.
If your healthcare professional believes that the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes will help your medical condition, he or she will complete a medical marijuana authorization form for you. You can get an appointment through Veriheal using the form at the top of this page.
Health care professionals may allow marijuana to be used by any individual, regardless of age, provided that it is medically acceptable under the law. If a patient is under the age of 18, they will need to have a designated provider (caregiver). For patients younger than 18, the medical marijuana authorization expires six months after it was issued.
Once your healthcare practitioner identifies that you are qualified for Medical Marijuana, he/she will give you the form during your medical appointment. If you have a designated provider (caregiver), you will receive two medical marijuana licenses, one for you as a patient and one for your designated provider.
A designated provider (caregiver) is a person who is aged 21 years or older who has been approved by a qualified patient and allowed by the patient’s medical practitioner to purchase, supply, or cultivate marijuana (cannabis) for the patient. If the qualified patient is younger than 18 years of age, then the designated provider (caregiver) must be a parent or guardian. A designated provider (caregiver) can only serve one patient at any one time.
Under the current regulations, a license expires one (1) year after its issuance for a qualified individual aged eighteen (18) or older and an authorization expires six (6) months after it has been given to a qualified individual under the age of 18. Your healthcare provider determines the expiration dates depending on the medical schedule.
No, you are not required to register with the state database unless you are under the age of 18 or a designated provider (caregiver) for a person underage.
You will receive the following benefits for registering:
· May buy marijuana products and possess up to three times the regular possession limit.
· Exempt from paying marijuana sales tax from a medically endorsed retail store.
· May buy high THC compliant products
· May grow six to 15 plants and possess 8 ounces of useable marijuana from your own plants.
· May participate in a registered marijuana cooperative.
· May purchase immature plants, clones, and seeds from a licensed marijuana producer.
· Receive arrest protection if you are compliant with chapter 69.51A RCW of the current medical cannabis law.
Yes. A qualifying patient or designated provider (caregiver) may not have their parental rights or residential time with a child restricted solely due to having a medical marijuana license as long as they are in compliance with medical marijuana laws and are able to perform parenting functions.
There are a wide variety of products available to medical cannabis patients in Washington. Products available for purchase at medical dispensaries include dry cannabis flower, pre-rolls, tinctures, extracts and concentrates, topicals, and edibles.
Yes, the process for renewing your card with Veriheal is simple in Washington. Annually, Veriheal will get in touch with you when your certification is approaching its expiration to help you set up a renewal consultation.