Updated on January 23, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
As legislation changes in Washington, check back to this section for information about how those legislative changes will affect the medical marijuana program in Washington.
Note from State, on sources for medical marijuana
“Current Washington law provides an affirmative defense to criminal prosecution if a qualified patient or designated provider possess up to 24 ounces of usable marijuana or 15 marijuana plants, or participates in a collective garden. Patients and designated providers age 21 or older may purchase and possess marijuana through the recreational market but are subject to the limitations in chapter 69.50 RCW. Currently, any adult age 21 or older may buy any combination of the following from a licensed retail store:
The laws relating to possession amounts for patients and designated providers will change on July 1, 2016… Beginning July 1, 2016, all non-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries must close down. However, medical marijuana patients can grow up to 15 plants if authorized by a healthcare practitioner,” Medical Marijuana Other Frequently Asked Questions [Accessed March 01, 2016]
* Please note: No Washington medical marijuana patient registry has been established, however on July 01, 2016, the Cannabis Protection Act becomes effective, implementing a voluntary state patient authorization database. Effective July 01, 2016, those individuals who have registered with the Medical Marijuana Authorization Database will receive a recognition card, also known as a medical marijuana card/cannabis I.D. card.
* Please note: Now that Washington legally allows state-licensed retail stores to sell marijuana, the state website states that qualified patients “can still grow their own marijuana or participate in a collective garden if they don’t want to buy from a state-licensed retail store”.
On November 03, 1998, Ballot Initiative I-692 was approved, by 59% of voters. Effective the same day, Chapter 69.51A RCW, removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess “valid documentation” from their physician affirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating condition and that the “potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks”.
In 2007, Senate Bill 6032, amended the rules being defined by the Legislature by July 01, 2008.
On November 02, 2008, based on Significant Analysis, the Final Rule was amended. In addition, the Final Rule was updated to include Crohn’s disease, Hepatitis C with debilitating nausea or intractable pain, or diseases, including anorexia, which result in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, or spasticity, when those conditions are unrelieved by standard treatments or medications, to the list of qualifying medical conditions.
On January 21, 2010, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that Ballot Initiative “i-692 did not legalize marijuana, but rather provided an authorized user with an affirmative defense, if the user shows compliance with the requirements for medical marijuana possession”, in State vs. Fry.
On August 31, 2010, chronic renal failure was added to the complete list of qualifying medical conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program.
On July 22, 2011, SB 5073 was amended, however, as explained in the veto notice on April 29, 2011, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed sections of the bill, while partially vetoing others related to creating state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and, voluntary patient registry.
On November 06, 2012, Initiative 502 was passed by Washington voters, allowing the state to “license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over 21 and tax marijuana sales.” In response, the Washington State Department of Health’s website posted an update stating that it “does not amend or repeal the medical marijuana laws (Chapter 69.51A RCW) in any way. The laws relating to authorization of medical marijuana by healthcare providers are still valid and enforceable”.
On April 10, 2015, SB 5052 passed the House 60-36, and the Senate 41-8 on April 14, 2015; and on April 24, 2015, Governor Jay Inslee signed the bill into law, with partial vetoes:
“Beginning July 1, 2016, patients and designated providers who are entered into the Medical Marijuana Authorization Database will receive a recognition card which will entitle the patient to additional rights and protections under SB 5052:
Patients and designated providers who hold valid authorizations but aren’t entered into the database will have an affirmative defense to criminal prosecution if they possess no more than four plants and six ounces of usable marijuana. They may purchase only in accordance with the laws and rules for non-patients.”
On July 24, 2015, the list of qualifying medical conditions was updated to include, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury.
On July 01, 2016, the Cannabis Protection Act, Washington’s new medical marijuana regulation bill, goes into full effect, ultimately integrating both the medical sector and regulated recreational sector. The purpose of the Act will be to clarify what determines the medical use of marijuana, and better protect the qualifying patients — medical marijuana patients who choose to register with the authorization database, will receive a tax break on the medication (medical marijuana is sale tax free); and be protected from arrest and prosecution.
The Department of Health’s role will be to determine the rules for the Consultant Certification Program, Authorization Database, and Product Compliance; in addition to consulting with the Liquor and Cannabis Board about medical marijuana endorsement requirements for retail stores; develop and approve the continuing education material for health practitioners who choose to authorize the medical use of marijuana; and make recommendations to the legislature on the specific requirements for establishing medical marijuana speciality clinics, and the rescheduling of cannabis.
As of July 2019, a compassionate care renewal eligible patient is exempt from having to be physically present to obtain a new photo to renew their recognition card, instead, allowing the qualifying patient’s designated provider renew on their behalf. https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/Marijuana/MedicalMarijuana/ProgramUpdates
* Please note: Effective until July 01, 2016, in Washington — as of November 02, 2008 — qualifying patients and their designated caregivers, may not possess more than twenty-four (24) ounces of usable cannabis, and may cultivate no more than fifteen (15) mature marijuana plants.
* Please note: Effective July 01, 2016, as per the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, the possession amounts will change, dependent on whether or not, a patient or designated caregiver/provider, has been entered in the state’s marijuana database. Patients and caregivers/providers, who have registered with the state’s database, may legally possess up to eight(8) ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate up to six (6) cannabis plants — healthcare practitioners may authorize patients to cultivate up to fifteen (15) plants, and possess up to sixteen (16) ounces.
Qualified patients in Washington may choose to see a marijuana doctor online instead of in-person, using the telemedicine portal, provided that a medical marijuana telemedicine doctor first establish a bonafide relationship with the patient in-person, after which all follow-up visits may be conducted via medical marijuana telemedicine services, online.
The State of Washington has a legalized medical marijuana program, which allows patients to receive a medical marijuana recommendation from a certified physician, and apply for a state-issued Washington Medical Marijuana Card, permitting the patient to purchase marijuana for medicinal use, as per Washington state guidelines.
Since the Washington medical marijuana program is still changing their laws and new Washington medical marijuana laws are being enacted on a regular basis, please be sure to visit our site frequently to get the most updated laws as it pertains to the Washington medical marijuana program. Please click a corresponding link to find out more about Washington’s Medical Marijuana Program. We have compiled the following Washington medical marijuana index of information to serve as a medical library to our users for legal reference of Washington’s laws, guidelines and program details regarding medical cannabis use in Washington.
Please note: In order to become a legal medical marijuana patient you must first have a qualifying condition as outlined by the department of health services and/or department of justice. For a comprehensive list of Washington’s qualifying medical marijuana conditions, please visit our qualifying conditions section located on the top of our menu under “legal states.”
Learn more about medical marijuana doctors in Washington by checking out our listings in your city:
Learn more about dispensaries in Washington by checking out our listings in your city: