Medical and Recreational Marijuana

The state of Washington has legalized (with conditions) both medical and recreational marijuana uses. However, medical and recreational marijuana uses have different legislative histories and are regulated very differently under state statutes.

The following table outlines a few major differences between the medical and recreational marijuana laws adopted by the state.   

 Medical MarijuanaRecreational Marijuana
Summary:Legalized the production and possession of marijuana for the exclusive benefit of a qualifying patient in the treatment of a terminal or debilitating illness.

RCW 69.51A and WAC 246-75
Legalized the possession and private recreational use of marijuana for those 21 and over; and also authorizes the production, processing, and retail sales of marijuana and marijuana infused products.

RCW 69.50 and WAC 314-55
Approval Process:Initiative 692; 2001 ESSSB 5073 regarding dispensaries and collective gardens. April 2001 former Gov. Gregoire vetoed all of 5073 related to dispensaries processing and production facilities.Initiative 502

Now that the state has finalized their rules regarding how recreational marijuana will be regulated; the City is able to identify elements that may need to be regulated by city code.

To initiate the public process with these regulations a public meeting between the City's Planning Commission (Commission) and City Council (Council) was held on December 3, 2013. At this meeting staff presented the Commission and Council with draft staff recommendations of how these uses could be regulated in the City.

Following are links to the materials provided to the Commission and Council for their December 3, 2013 joint meeting:

Staff Memo with summary materials;

Draft Ordinance; and,


Following the joint City Council and Planning Commission meeting in December the Planning Commission held a meeting to discuss the changes to the proposed development regulations that they would be reviewing. View a copy of the materials that the Planning Commission reviewed at their meeting on February 4, 2014.

A public hearing before the City's Planning Commission was held on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 6 p.m. and another hearing before the City Council was held on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 7 p.m. Both hearings were held at the City's Police and Court Campus located at 1805 Continental Place. Click here for a copy of the Public Hearing Notice.

Following are links to the draft materials that the Planning Commission reviewed at their February 18, 2014 public hearing:

Draft Ordinance

Until permanent development regulations were adopted by the City there was a moratorium on these uses. View a copy of the moratorium ordinance.