marijuana6.jpg
It's officially legal to smoke marijuana in Washington state on Dec. 6. But many are asking what that really means. (AP Photo)

What are my rights under Washington state's new marijuana law?

State laws changed early Thursday morning and your world might look a little different.

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For starters, it's officially legal to smoke marijuana in Washington state. But many are asking what that really means. Can you light up a joint on a street corner or get high in the parking lot?

Can I smoke marijuana?

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes recently explained a few of the legalities to KIRO Radio's Ross and Burbank Show.

First off, there's still no legal way for a recreational smoker to buy marijuana.

"That's the problem with medical marijuana now. For instance, even with an authorized provider under state law, they're still illegal under federal law," Holmes said.

You can only get marijuana if you're an authorized medical patient with a prescription.

Holmes also answered questions about distribution

Seattle police have posted a how-to guide for marijuana questions. It's called Marijwhatnow. Here are some of the pertinent highlights.

Can I legally carry around an ounce of marijuana?

According to the recently passed initiative, beginning December 6th, adults over the age of 21 will be able to carry up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. Please note that the initiative says it "is unlawful to open a package containing marijuana...in view of the general public."

Can I smoke pot outside my home? Like at a park?

Much like having an open container of alcohol in public, doing so could result in a civil infraction, like a ticket, but not arrest. You can certainly use marijuana in the privacy of your own home. Additionally, if smoking a cigarette isn't allowed where you are (say, inside an apartment building or flammable chemical factory), smoking marijuana isn't allowed there either.

What happens if I get pulled over and an officer thinks I've been smoking pot?

If an officer believes you're driving under the influence of anything, they will conduct a field sobriety test and may consult with a drug recognition expert. If officers establish probable cause, they will bring you to a precinct and ask your permission to draw your blood for testing. If officers have reason to believe you're under the influence of something, they can get a warrant for a blood draw from a judge. If you're in a serious accident, then a blood draw will be mandatory.

Since voters approved I-502 last month, 11 counties have dismissed possession cases: Clallam, King, Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Chelan, Okanogan, Spokane, Whitman, and Lincoln.

It's not clear whether the remaining 28 counties will immediately dismiss cases upon the adoption of the new state law. For instance, the deputy prosecuting attorney for Snohomish County, Hal Hupp, recently told The Marysville Globe there has been plenty of talk about the new law, but he doesn't expect a decision by Dec. 6.

"Dec. 6 is the start date for the new marijuana laws, but it's not the deadline for decisions on the old laws," Hupp told The Globe.

Not only do you have the potential to legally smoke marijuana, same-sex couples are also allowed to tie the knot in Washington.

Six other states - New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia - already allowed gay marriage. But Maryland, Maine, and Washington were the first to approve it by public vote. The other states' laws were enacted either by lawmakers or court rulings.

Gay marriage becomes legal

Same-sex couples were allowed to apply for marriage licenses beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning at the King County Administration Building in Seattle. Other counties around the state will be holding special lotteries for the first certificates signed.

The couples will have 60 days to use their licenses, but there is a three day waiting period before they can get married. There are a series of large wedding gatherings around the state scheduled for Sunday.

For more on requirements to be eligible for a marriage license in Washington state (age requirements, residency, etc.) and to download the required forms in advance, check out this frequently asked questions page from King County.

The Recorder's Office in the King County Administration Building will be open for extended hours:

Thursday, December 6: 12:01 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Friday, December 7: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 8: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

KIRO Radio's Chris Sullivan contributed to this report.


MyNorthwest.com, Staff report
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