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The Basics

Marijuana laws have changed a lot in Washington in just the last few years. But if there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that marijuana—also called pot, weed, or cannabis—is still illegal for people under 21. Some basic knowledge can help you understand the law and the benefits of steering clear of marijuana.

Washington State Laws on Marijuana

It is illegal for anyone, of any age, to: possess and/or use marijuana under the age of 21 unless the person is medically authorized, drive while under the influence of marijuana, use marijuana in public places, or grow marijuana plants unless the person is medically authorized or licensed by the state as a marijuana producer. Note: It is illegal for adults to provide marijuana to minors. It is also illegal for parents to provide marijuana to their children.

Source: Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, Marijuana Education: Know the Law, 2016
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Marijuana for Medical Use

In 2016 new laws were created around using marijuana for medical purposes. Doctors can authorize it for a patient if they have a condition that may benefit from the use of marijuana. Currently, mental health conditions (like depression and anxiety) and learning disabilities do not qualify as one of the authorized conditions.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved marijuana as medicine but has approved two medicines containing synthetic (meaning human made or not from a plant) marijuana in pill form.

Even though “medical” marijuana may sound safer than “recreational” marijuana, the drug has similar risks and health consequences whether it is used for “medical” or “recreational” purposes.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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Active Chemicals in Marijuana

Marijuana can be harmful to your health even though it’s a plant. It can be harmful no matter how it’s used, whether smoked, eaten, vaped, or dabbed. And, mixing marijuana with alcohol and other drugs can cause even more dangerous health effects. The two main active chemicals in marijuana are THC and CBD.

Source: Trends in Pharmacological Science, 2009.
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Types of Marijuana

There are four main types of marijuana: marijuana flower, marijuana concentrates, marijuana-infused edibles, and topical marijuana. All forms except topical marijuana are mind-altering (psychoactive).

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