Chapter 69.51A RCW(4KB) Ballot Initiative I-692 -- Approved by 59% of voters on Nov. 3, 1998 Effective: Nov. 3, 1998
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."
Approved Conditions: cachexia; cancer; HIV or AIDS; epilepsy; glaucoma; intractable pain
(defined as pain unrelieved by standard treatment or medications); and
multiple sclerosis. Other conditions are subject to approval by the
Washington Board of Health. Additional conditions as of Nov. 2, 2008: Crohn's disease, Hepatitis C with debilitating nausea or intractable
pain, 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. Added as of Aug. 31, 2010: chronic renal failure
Amended: Senate Bill 6032(29 KB) Effective: 2007 (rules being defined by Legislature with a July 1, 2008 due date)
qualifying patient and designated provider may possess a total of no
more than twenty-four ounces of usable marijuana, and no more than
fifteen plants. This quantity became the state's official "60-day
supply" on Nov. 2, 2008.
Amended: SB 5073(375 KB) Effective: July 22, 2011
Gov. Christine Gregoire signed sections of the bill and partially vetoed others, as explained in the Apr. 29, 2011 veto notice. (50 KB) Gov. Gregoire struck down sections related to creating state-licensed
medical marijuana dispensaries and a voluntary patient registry.
Updates: On Jan. 21, 2010,
the Supreme Court of the State of Washington 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." State v. Fry(125 KB)
The Washington Department of Health was
asked whether it had received any instructions in light of this ruling.
Kristi Weeks, Director of Policy and Legislation, stated the following
in a Jan. 25, 2010 email response:
"The Department of Health has a limited role related to
medical marijuana in the state of Washington. Specifically, we were
directed by the Legislature to determine the amount of a 60 day supply
and conduct a study of issues related to access to medical marijuana.
Both of these tasks have been completed. We have maintained the medical
marijuana webpage for the convenience of the public.
The department has not received 'any instructions' in light of
State v. Fry. That case does not change the law or affect the 60 day
supply. Chapter 69.51A RCW, as confirmed in Fry, provides an affirmative
defense to prosecution for possession of marijuana for qualifying
patients and caregivers."
On Nov. 6, 2012, Washington voters passed Initiative
502, which allows the state to "license and regulate marijuana
production, distribution, and possession for persons over 21 and tax
marijuana sales." The website for Washington's medical marijuana program
states that the initiative "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."
SB 5052(840 KB) passed the House by a vote of 60-36 on Apr. 10, 2015 and the Senate by a
vote of 41-8 on Apr. 14, 2015. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law
with partial vetoes on Apr. 24, 2015.
The law creates a voluntary registry and allows registered patients
to possess three times as much marijuana as allowed by the recreational
marijuana law. Patients will be allowed to purchase medical-grade
products at some stores that sell legal recreational marijuana.
Department of Health
PO Box 47866
Olympia, WA 98504-7866
Information provided by the state on sources for medical marijuana: "The law allows a qualifying patient or designated provider
to grow medical marijuana. It is not legal to buy or sell it... The law
does not allow dispensaries." "General Frequently Asked Questions," doh.wa.gov (accessed Apr. 24, 2014)
Note: Washington now allows state-licensed retail stores to sell
marijuana. The state website says 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."
Patient Registry Fee:
No state registration program has been established