Chapter 69.51A RCW (4KB) Ballot Initiative I-692 -- Approved by 59% of voters on Nov. 3, 1998 Effective: Nov. 3, 1998
Removed 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)
Amended: Final Rule (123 KB) based on Significant Analysis (370 KB) Effective: Nov. 2, 2008 Possession/Cultivation: A 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) ProCon.org contacted the Washington Department of Health to ask 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 to ProCon.org:
"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."
MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Wash. Rev. Code §§ 69.51A - 69.51A.901 (2007).
CONTACT INFORMATION: Fact sheets outlining Washington’s medical marijuana law are available from:
Washington State Department of Health
1112 SE Quince St.
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, WA 98504-7890
(800) 525-0127 or (360) 236-4052
Attention: Glenda Moore
ACLU of Washington, Drug Reform Project