Although the passing of Initiative 502 may have made marijuana use legal, it is still a legal minefield of technicalities and seemingly random legal decisions. Until the public becomes familiar with marijuana laws and regulations, users are likely to suffer social stigma and unfair treatment by others—including being denied parental rights in court.

Washington State Marijuana Use Under I-502: Regulations for Public Safety and Criminal Violation

After marijuana became legal, it became subject to provisions of the Washington State Liquor Control Board. This is a licensing and regulatory agency that controls the production and selling of substances, and while it may issue fines to violators, it is not responsible for making criminal prosecutions. The WSLCB is primarily concerned with responsible use, and the rules it enforces are similar to those imposed to regulate alcohol consumption. The WSLCB has specific regulations regarding:

  • Possession. Under I-502, anyone over age 21 who possesses one ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana in solid form, or 72 ounces in liquid form or less shall not be prosecuted in Washington State.
  • Public use. Marijuana may not be consumed “in view of the general public.” While this may be open to interpretation, it is generally accepted that marijuana should be consumed in the user’s home out of view of the public and the user’s underage children.
  • Trafficking. All marijuana products that are purchased legally in Washington State must be consumed within state limits, and cannot be transported to other states.
  • DUI. A per se DUI limit of THC levels have been established as “greater than or equal to five nanograms per milliliter of blood (five ng/mL).” It is up to state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce the DUI limit.

Note that these regulations do not address the use of medical marijuana. The state law concerning medical marijuana varies somewhat, but use for any reason can affect your ability to live with—or even visit—your child. Learn more about how pot use can affect child custody cases in Washington.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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