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The History of Marijuana in Washington

Marijuana is legal to use in the state of Washington, which along with Colorado, was actually one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Some of these regulations are more recent, but Washington has a history with cannabis that dates back to 1923, when the drug was criminalized and considered a narcotic. Marijuana arrests remained rare for several decades until the 1960s, when marijuana became fun and popular among young adults. More people continued experimenting with cannabis, eventually causing lawmakers to question the drug’s severity. By 1971, the Washington State Legislature recognized that marijuana is neither an opiate nor a narcotic.

By the 1990s, the public continued questioning the effects of marijuana so much that law enforcement stopped aggressively pursuing users. Marijuana was proving more helpful than harmful, so lawmakers began to push for legalization. By 1998, after a failed first attempt, Washington legalized medical marijuana under Initiative 692, allowing qualifying patients to use marijuana, while also protecting the physicians and caregivers providing the prescriptions. Recreational marijuana became legal in the state in 2012, though smoking in public is still prohibited.  


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