Facts about Washington’s medical marijuana law

• Voters approved Washington’s medical marijuana law in 1998. It states that people authorized by their doctors to use pot for medical purposes can possess a 60-day supply. The law was clarified last year to say a patient may possess 24 ounces of smokeable pot and 15 plants at any one time. The law says a patient may exceed the limits if he or she can prove medical need.

• The law does not protect medical marijuana users from prosecution, but it offers what is known as an “affirmative defense” — meaning they can offer their illness as a good excuse. There is no affirmative defense for people arrested or charged under federal law.

• The law lists illnesses that qualify patients to use marijuana medically. They include AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma and “some forms of intractable pain.”

• Patients in Washington need only a written recommendation from their doctor. They do not need to register with the state, which does not track the number of people authorized to use marijuana medically.

• The law allows patients or designated providers to grow medical marijuana. It is not legal to buy or sell it. The law does not allow dispensaries to operate in the state.

— Source: Washington State Department of Health

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