Skip to content

Is THC Legal In Washington?

Key Takeaways:

  • Legal Status of THC: THC is legal for both medical and recreational use in Washington, but users must adhere to specific regulations regarding possession and consumption.
  • Impact of Federal Law: Despite state legalization, federal laws still classify THC as a controlled substance, affecting banking, employment, and interstate travel.
  • Future Legislation: Washington's THC laws may change with potential federal reforms, social equity initiatives, and technological advancements in the cannabis industry.


At Chill Frog, we are dedicated to providing high-quality CBD and THC products designed to help you relax and find balance in your busy life. Our range of CBD + THC gummies offers a natural and therapeutic solution for those seeking the calming benefits of cannabis compounds. We believe in the power of these natural products to enhance well-being and promote a healthier lifestyle.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. It is responsible for the "high" that users experience when they consume cannabis. In Washington State, the legal status of THC has changed significantly over the years.

This article will discuss the legal status of THC in Washington, including the differences between medical and recreational use, current laws, penalties for possession, the impact of federal laws, legal alternatives, and future legislative outlooks.


Hoppin’ Gummies


Understanding The Difference Between Medical And Recreational Use

In Washington, it’s important to distinguish between medical and recreational cannabis use, as the regulations and requirements differ for each.

Medical cannabis in Washington is intended for patients with qualifying medical conditions. These conditions include cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, and severe pain, among others. Patients must obtain a recommendation from a healthcare provider and register with the state to receive a medical cannabis card. This card allows them to purchase higher quantities of cannabis and THC products than recreational users, access stronger products, and potentially avoid certain taxes.

Recreational cannabis, on the other hand, is available to all adults aged 21 and over in Washington. There is no need for a medical recommendation or registration. Recreational users can purchase cannabis and THC products from state-licensed retailers, but there are limits on the amount they can buy and possess. For instance, adults can legally possess up to one ounce of usable cannabis, 16 ounces of cannabis-infused edibles, 72 ounces of liquid cannabis products, and seven grams of cannabis concentrates.

Current Laws Governing THC In Washington

Washington State has established a comprehensive set of laws regulating the use, possession, and distribution of THC. These laws are designed to ensure public safety while allowing adults to use cannabis responsibly. Below, we break down the key aspects of these laws.

Age Restrictions

In Washington, the legal age for purchasing and using recreational cannabis is 21 years and older. Individuals under 21 are prohibited from possessing or consuming cannabis, with penalties that can include fines and community service. For medical cannabis, minors can use THC products if they have a qualifying medical condition and a designated caregiver.

Possession Limits

Recreational users in Washington can possess the following amounts of cannabis and THC products:

  1. Up to one ounce of usable cannabis (dried flower)
  2. Up to 16 ounces of cannabis-infused edibles in solid form
  3. Up to 72 ounces of cannabis-infused products in liquid form, and
  4. Up to seven grams of cannabis concentrates

Medical cannabis patients, however, can possess up to three times the recreational limits, depending on their specific needs and physician's recommendation.


Recreational users are not allowed to grow their own cannabis plants at home. However, medical cannabis patients registered with the state may grow up to six plants for personal use, and up to 15 plants if their healthcare provider recommends a higher limit.

Purchasing Regulations

All THC products must be purchased from licensed retailers. These stores are strictly regulated and must adhere to state guidelines regarding product testing, labeling, and quality control. Home deliveries and online sales are currently not permitted.

Use In Public

Consuming cannabis in public places is illegal. This includes parks, streets, and any other areas where the public has access. Consumption is only allowed on private property with the owner's permission.

Penalties For THC Possession In Washington

While Washington State has legalized the use of cannabis, there are still penalties for violating the established laws.

Possession Over Legal Limits

Possession of cannabis or THC products exceeding the legal limits can result in legal consequences. For recreational users, possessing more than one ounce of usable cannabis, 16 ounces of edibles, 72 ounces of liquid products, or seven grams of concentrates is a misdemeanor offense. Penalties may include fines and up to 90 days in jail. For medical cannabis patients, possessing more than the allowable amount without a valid recommendation can also result in similar penalties.

Possession By Minors

Minors found in possession of any amount of cannabis or THC products face significant legal consequences. For individuals under 21, possession can result in fines, community service, and mandatory drug education programs. Repeat offenses can lead to harsher penalties, including possible juvenile detention.

Distribution Without A License

Selling or distributing cannabis or THC products without a state-issued license is a felony in Washington. Penalties for unlicensed distribution can include substantial fines and imprisonment. The severity of the punishment depends on the amount of cannabis involved and whether the offense includes sales to minors or other aggravating factors.

Driving Under The Influence

Driving under the influence of THC is a serious offense in Washington. The state has established a legal limit for THC in the bloodstream (5 nanograms per milliliter) for drivers. Exceeding this limit can result in DUI charges, which carry penalties such as fines, license suspension, and possible jail time. Convictions can also lead to increased insurance costs and other long-term consequences.

Impact Of Federal Laws On Washington's THC Regulations

Although Washington has legalized the use of cannabis, federal laws still classify THC as a Schedule I controlled substance. This classification impacts several areas of state regulation.

Federal Vs. State Law

Despite state legalization, federal law prohibits the use, possession, and distribution of cannabis. This means that federal authorities can still enforce these laws within Washington. However, federal enforcement in states with legal cannabis tends to focus on larger-scale trafficking and distribution rather than individual users.

Banking And Financial Services

Due to federal prohibition, cannabis-related businesses in Washington face significant challenges in accessing banking and financial services. Many banks are reluctant to work with these businesses due to the risk of federal penalties. This forces many dispensaries and related enterprises to operate on a cash-only basis, increasing the risk of theft and complicating financial management.


Federal law impacts employment policies regarding cannabis use. Employers in Washington can still enforce drug-free workplace policies and conduct drug testing. Employees who test positive for THC, even if they use cannabis legally under state law, can face disciplinary action or termination. This is especially relevant for jobs requiring federal security clearances or involving federal contracts.

Interstate Travel

Transporting cannabis across state lines remains illegal under federal law, even if both states have legalized cannabis. Individuals caught transporting cannabis between states can face federal drug trafficking charges, which carry severe penalties. This restriction limits the ability of Washington residents to travel with cannabis products.

Federal Lands

Cannabis use and possession are prohibited on all federal lands, even within states where it is legal. This includes national parks, national forests, and other federally managed areas in Washington. Individuals caught with cannabis on federal lands can face federal charges, regardless of state law.

Legal Alternatives To THC In Washington

For those who seek the benefits of cannabis but prefer to avoid the legal complexities of THC, there are several legal alternatives available in Washington. These alternatives offer similar therapeutic effects without the psychoactive properties of THC.

CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis that has gained popularity for its potential health benefits. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a "high" and is legal in Washington as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. CBD products are available in various forms, including oils, tinctures, edibles, and topicals. They are used for a range of conditions, such as anxiety, pain relief, inflammation, and epilepsy.

Hemp-Derived Products

Hemp is a variety of cannabis that contains very low levels of THC (less than 0.3%) and higher levels of CBD. Hemp-derived products are legal under federal law and can be found widely in Washington. These products include hemp oil, hemp seeds, and hemp-based CBD products. They are used for nutritional, therapeutic, and industrial purposes.

Low-THC Cannabis Strains

Some cannabis strains are bred to contain low levels of THC while maintaining higher levels of other beneficial cannabinoids like CBD. These strains provide some of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the strong psychoactive effects. They are available at licensed dispensaries and can be a good option for individuals seeking mild effects.


Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis and other plants. They contribute to the plant's scent and may also have therapeutic properties. Terpenes are often added to CBD products to enhance their effects and provide additional benefits, such as relaxation or increased energy. While terpenes alone do not produce psychoactive effects, they can complement the benefits of other cannabinoids.

Future Outlook On THC Legislation In Washington

The legal framework for THC and cannabis is continually developing in Washington State. Changes in public opinion, scientific research, and political dynamics all contribute to potential future developments.

  • Potential Changes in Federal Law: There is growing momentum at the federal level for the reform of cannabis laws. Several bills have been introduced in Congress that aim to decriminalize or even legalize cannabis nationwide. If federal law changes, it could have a significant impact on Washington’s regulations, potentially easing banking restrictions, enhancing research opportunities, and harmonizing state and federal policies.
  • Expansion of Medical Cannabis Program: Washington’s medical cannabis program could see further expansion. This might include an increase in the list of qualifying conditions, making medical cannabis more accessible to a broader range of patients. Additionally, there could be improvements in the registration process and access to more potent and specialized products for medical use.
  • Technological and Product Innovations: The cannabis industry is rapidly innovating, leading to the development of new products and consumption methods. Advances in extraction technologies, edibles, topicals, and other product forms could provide consumers with more options and better control over their THC intake. This innovation could also drive changes in regulations to ensure safety and quality.
  • Social Equity and Inclusion Initiatives: There is an increasing focus on addressing the social justice impacts of cannabis prohibition. Future legislation may include measures to promote social equity and inclusion in the cannabis industry. This could involve expunging past cannabis convictions, providing support for minority-owned cannabis businesses, and ensuring that communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs benefit from legalization.
  • Public Health and Safety Measures: As the cannabis market matures, there may be a greater emphasis on public health and safety. This could include stricter regulations on product testing and labeling, more robust public education campaigns about responsible use, and improved measures to prevent youth access and impaired driving.

Overall, the future of THC legislation in Washington appears dynamic and progressive, reflecting the changing attitudes and understanding of cannabis use and its societal impacts.


Chill Gummies


Final Thoughts

Washington State has been a pioneer in the legalization of cannabis, setting a precedent for other states to follow. The legal status of THC in Washington is a reflection of the state's progressive approach to drug policy, balancing the benefits of cannabis with public safety concerns. While THC is legal for both medical and recreational use, there are specific regulations that users must follow to ensure compliance with state laws.

THC laws continue to develop, influenced by scientific research, public opinion, and political movements. As federal laws potentially change and new innovations emerge, Washington's regulations may adapt to reflect these developments. For health-conscious consumers, understanding the current legal framework and staying informed about future changes is essential for making safe and responsible choices regarding THC use.

As always, whether you are considering THC for medical purposes or recreational enjoyment, it is important to stay informed about the laws and regulations, consult with healthcare providers, and use products responsibly.

Read also:

Frequently Asked Questions About The Legality Of THC In Washington


Can I use cannabis in public parks in Washington?

No, using cannabis in public parks or any public place is illegal in Washington.

Are there restrictions on the potency of cannabis products in Washington?

Yes, there are limits on the potency of edibles and other cannabis-infused products to ensure consumer safety.

How do I obtain a medical cannabis card in Washington?

To obtain a medical cannabis card, you need a recommendation from a healthcare provider and must register with the state’s medical cannabis program.

Are there any restrictions on advertising cannabis products in Washington?

Yes, there are strict regulations on advertising cannabis products to prevent targeting minors and misleading claims.

Is there a limit to the number of cannabis retailers in Washington?

Yes, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board limits the number of retail licenses issued to control the market.

Can I give cannabis as a gift in Washington?

Yes, adults 21 and over can give cannabis to another adult as long as no money or other compensation is exchanged and it is within the legal possession limits.


  1. Washington DC Hemp Laws | (n.d.). Washington D.C. Cannabis Information Portal.
  2. Hansen, C., Alas, H., & Davis Jr., E. (2021, June 30). Where Is Marijuana Legal? A Guide to Hemp Legalization. US News & World Report.
  3. Dorbian, I. (n.d.). Despite Some Stumbles, Total Sales In U.S. Cannabis Market Could Soar To $50.7 Billion By 2028, Says Top Researcher. Forbes. Retrieved October 18, 2023, from
  4. Inc, G. (2021, November 4). Support for Legal Marijuana Holds at Record High of 68%.