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Known as a producer of apples, pears and sweet cherries, Washington state is now growing yet another kind of plant. Sales of recreational marijuana officially began July 8, 2014. As with all other U.S. states that are now selling adult-use weed, there are a few things you should know before you grab your phone and start searching for how to make an apple pipe.

Where and How to Buy

Adults 21 and older can buy recreational marijuana at state-licensed retail stores. Consumers can find marijuana retail locations through the Weedmaps search tool. The WSLCB lists licensed retailers on its own map, as well. Make sure to bring a valid photo ID to show proof of your age. Bring cash, since most retailers can't deal with banks because of marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled substance. Leave anyone younger than 21 at home because they will not be allowed in the store. Good news for visitors: Non-residents who have a valid driver's license, or state or federal ID, can buy marijuana for recreational use.

How to Consume

Adults 21 and older can smoke, vape, eat and otherwise consume marijuana flower, edibles, drinks, and concentrates on private property. Use it in a private place like your own home, but make sure your landlord is OK with it if you don't own your residence. It is illegal to grow your own marijuana for recreational use.

What Isn't Allowed

Using marijuana products in view of the public is illegal. It's also illegal to have an open container of a marijuana product in the driver's or passenger area of the car, so keep it sealed or in the trunk. And of course, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) for operating a car or watercraft after consuming marijuana.

According to “Marijuana Use in Washington State An Adult Consumer's Guide,” a brochure put together by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB), “Similar to the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit, it is illegal to drive with 5 ng/mL [nanograms per milliliter] of THC or more in your blood if you are 21 or older. If you are under 21, it is illegal to drive with any amount of THC in your blood. THC concentration is determined by a blood test, which is performed at a police station or medical facility, and requires a blood draw.”

But you can still get a DUI for an amount less than 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood-based on signs of impairment. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram.

Though it is legal to buy recreational marijuana in Washington, there are limits to how much you can purchase at any given time:

  • up to 1 ounce, or 28.35 grams, of useable marijuana – the harvested flowers or bud.
  • 16 ounces, or 454 grams, of marijuana-infused edibles in solid form.
  • 72 fluid ounces, or 2.13 liters, in liquid form.
  • 7 grams of marijuana concentrates.

It's a felony to sell or give cannabis to another person if you are not a licensed retailer. Giving or selling it to a minor younger than 18 is punishable by  10 years in prison plus a $10,000 fine.

Oh, and because cannabis is illegal federally, it can't be transported outside of Washington.

First-Time Use in Washington

The University of Washington's Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute recommends starting with small amounts and waiting an hour before continuing – and waiting two hours when using edibles. Also, marijuana with high THC levels and low CBD levels could make anxiety more likely. Make sure to ask a lot of questions about specific products at the cannabis store. If you start with low doses, you'll have more control over the end result. Over time, you'll fine-tune what works best for you.

Cannabis Legalization in Washington

Voters in the state passed the Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Initiative, or Initiative 502, by 55 percent in 2012, legalizing recreational marijuana for adults ages 21 and older. The licensing and regulation of marijuana businesses is handled by the WSLCB. The Medical Use of Marijuana Act of 1998 was passed with almost 60 percent of the vote, and in 2015, the Washington Legislature passed the Cannabis Patients Protection Act (CPPA), which established state regulations for the production, possession, sale and use of medical marijuana.

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