FAQs on I-502

Frequently Asked Questions about Implementing Initiative 502

Subtopics (links)


When can I buy marijuana legally?

Recreational marijuana sales to the public began July, 8 2014.

What is a license? 

The law creates three separate tiers: marijuana producer, marijuana processor, and marijuana retailer. Specific license requirements are detailed in the rules which are available here. The best way to keep up to date on the process is to register for email notifications on the WSLCB website lcb.wa.gov.

How much does a license cost?

The law establishes a license application fee at $266 and a $1,062 renewal fee for each of the three licenses; marijuana producer, marijuana processor and marijuana retailer.

Can I hold all three license types?

Having all three licenses is not permitted under I-502. A licensee may hold both a producer and a processor license simultaneously. The initiative does not allow a producer and/or processor to also be a retailer.

How many retail licenses will be issued?

Recent legislation directs the Board to accept and process applications using the priority criteria set forth in the law. There will not be an initial cap on the number of retail licenses issued. 

How many producer and processor licenses will be issued?

No limit. The LCB opened a 30 day window in November 2013 where anyone could apply, and qualified applicants will receive licenses. 

Can I grow my own marijuana now? Can I sell my homegrown marijuana?

Home grown marijuana for recreational use, as well as sale, remains illegal. Recreational use marijuana must be purchased from a state-licensed retailer.


Retail Stores

Are there restrictions on where marijuana businesses can locate?

You cannot set up a store within 1000 feet of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter. Local authorities will also be notified and have an opportunity to object.

Note: Recent legislation allows local governments to pass an ordinance to allow for a reduction in the 1000-foot buffer requirements to 100 feet around all entities except elementary and secondary schools and public playgrounds.

Are the retail outlets run by the state?

Stores are licensed and regulated by the WSLCB but are private-sector businesses.

Can I incorporate marijuana sales into my existing business?

No. Retail outlets may only sell marijuana, marijuana concentrates, marijuana infused products and marijuana paraphernalia.

Can customers consume in a retail store?

No. On-premise consumption is not allowed.

Are there any restrictions on advertising?

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions on Advertising for more information. 

Are non-Washington residents able to purchase marijuana?

Yes, but the marijuana products are to be consumed in Washington.


Public Safety/Criminal

Note: The WSLCB is a licensing and regulatory agency and does not handle criminal prosecutions

What is the WSLCB doing to ensure public safety, especially preventing access by minors?

Public safety is central to the WSLCB mission. As expected by the voters, the rules we created include minimums for security, preventing minors’ access to marijuana and other provisions. Educating retailers and preventing minors access to marijuana is an important part of our enforcement work today. 

What is the DUI provision?

The initiative sets a per se DUI limit of "delta-9" THC levels at greater than or equal to 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood (5 ng/mL). State and local law enforcement agencies are tasked with enforcing the DUI limit.

Can I still be drug tested now that marijuana is legal

The law does not address the topic of drug testing but it is our understanding that employers may still conduct drug testing at their discretion. Since marijuana is illegal under federal law institutions that receive federal funds will still be subject to mandated testing. Organizations such as the NFL and NBA have issued statements that marijuana consumption is a violation of their conduct policy and they intend to continue testing for it.

The initiative says I cannot consume marijuana in public. What is the definition of “in public?”

The law states that it is unlawful to open/consume a package of marijuana or marijuana infused product in view of the general public.

Can marijuana purchased legally in Washington be transported to other states?

No. Marijuana and marijuana products are to be consumed in Washington State.


Federal Government

What is the federal government going to do?

On August 29, 2013 Attorney General Eric Holder called both Governors Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper (Colorado) to outline the federal government’s guidance on legalized marijuana. That guidance was also outlined in a memo which focuses on eight points of federal emphasis such as youth access and public safety which the LCB’s rules address. The regulatory system for marijuana, and the rules written by the Board appears to meet those eight points. The memo does not change federal law. Governor Inslee’s office is maintaining an open dialogue with the federal government and the WSLCB is moving forward to carry out the expectations of the agency under the new law.

Since marijuana is legal in Washington can the federal government still prosecute me?

Yes. Washington's system of legalized marijuana does not preempt federal law. Presently Washington State residents involved in marijuana production /retailing could still be subject to prosecution if the federal government chooses to do so.

Can the federal government confiscate my assets?

Yes. Confiscation of assets is one of the enforcement tactics available to federal authorities.

What about industrial hemp? Does this create a new market for hemp products?

No. The law is focused on legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. The law modifies the definition of “marijuana” to include only cannabis greater than 0.3 percent THC concentration. Cannabis under this limit – industrial hemp – is not treated as recreational “marijuana.”


WSLCB Hiring

How can I apply for a job with WSLCB?

All job openings will be posted in the careers section of our website. The actual application process is done through Careers.wa.gov. Visit their website and fill out your profile in advance so you are ready when opportunities become available.

Does the WSLCB drug test new employees?

The WSLB does not drug test administrative staff at the time of hiring. However, we do test potential enforcement staff for drugs, including marijuana. The WSLCB is a drug-free workplace. All employees are expected to not be impaired at work. Should a reasonable suspicion arise that an employee is impaired, that person may be tested.

I’m an expert in the field of marijuana how can I be involved in the process?

Our rule-making system is a public process and we engage citizens along the way. Like hiring, the best way to keep up to date on the process is to register for email notifications. We will be sending out timelines and requests for public comment using email.



How much tax revenue will marijuana sales generate?

During the first fiscal year the marijuana industry generated over $64 million dollars in tax revenue. That number will likely increase as the market continues to grow and refine. You can find the most recent financial data on our Frequently Requested Lists page. 

How is it going to be taxed?

Effective July 1, 2015, tax reforms defined in HB 2136 change the existing marijuana excise tax structure. A 37 percent marijuana excise tax must now be collected exclusively at the retail level. In addition, B&O taxes on the production and local retail sales taxes apply.

Marijuana tax rates are too high, can you lower them?

WSLCB officials do not have the authority to change the taxes. Any change to the tax structure would have to come from the legislature.