Federal Law vs. State LawIt's important to note that, while I-502 makes personal possession of marijuana legal in Washington State, federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic. The Seattle Police Department's policy is to follow state law rather than federal for minor possession; however, possessing the drug on federal property such as the federal courthouse or military base is not recommended. The Seattle Police Department officers and detectives will not participate in any federal investigation of marijuana users or marijuana-related businesses unless the crime is prohibited under state law as well. However, it is important to understand that possession of more than 30 grams or the distribution of marijuana is a felony under federal law. You can be prosecuted in federal court regardless of state law.
In addition, according to the initiative, it is unlawful to open a package of marijuana in public. As with public drinking, which is prohibited in many areas, consuming marijuana in public may result in a ticket. Smoking marijuana in areas where cigarette smoking is prohibited could also result in a civil infraction.
Production and DistributionCurrently, it is illegal to grow and distribute marijuana, even just to friends and family. Once state regulations are sorted out, however, you may be able to get a license to grow or sell marijuana. Growing marijuana for personal non-medical use only will remain illegal.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) has until December 1, 2013 to establish guidelines for the sale and distribution of marijuana. Until that time, growing and selling non-medical marijuana remains illegal.
Driving Under the InfluenceAlthough consuming marijuana in private is now allowable under Washington law, driving under the influence is not, as is the case with alcohol. If you are pulled over because an officer believes you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will be asked to take field sobriety test and potentially taken in for blood testing. (NOTE: Always ask to speak with an attorney before agreeing to take the roadside tests, blood test or answer any questions.) In the event you cause a serious accident, that results in substantial harm to anyone, blood testing may be conducted without your consent. THC blood level limits will eventually be set by the WSLCB. Until then the "legal limit" for drivers over the age of 21 is currently greater or equal to 5 ng/ml, a relatively low level. Thus, while you may not feel too impaired to drive you may be risking a DUI conviction if you drive after smoking any amount of marijuana. I-502 also established a "zero tolerance" policy for THC. Because active THC can remain in one's blood for many hours, and can be stored and released in the body for months, minors who smoke marijuana may be at risk of conviction anytime they get behind a wheel.
If you are have marijuana in your car and are pulled over for some other infraction, a police officer does not have the right to search your car without a warrant. The smell of marijuana does not justify a search warrant under state law. However, if you are arrested for DUI the officer may be able to search your vehicle for evidence of the crime without a warrant. (NOTE: Never consent to the search of your vehicle or property without first consulting an attorney.)